Drunk driver asleep at wheel in middle of Mary Valley Hwy
A McIntosh Creek man who fell asleep behind the wheel in the middle of the Mary Valley Highway and then drove off when police approached him, has narrowly avoided jail time.
Max McNaught was found by police slumped over the wheel of his ute on the night of December 5, 2020.
Gympie Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that when police roused him and asked him to unlock the door, the 21-year-old tried to put the car in gear, only to have it roll backwards towards the officers.
He managed to get it in drive before hitting anything, and then drove off with police in pursuit.
McNaught then crossed double white lines on a blind corner, drove on the wrong side of the road for about 100m, veered on to the median strip and on to the wrong side of the road, the court heard.
He pulled over on Jones Hill Road where his vehicle was sandwiched between two police cars.
McNaught still refused to unlock his doors and police were forced to move one of the cars when the ute began to roll backwards as the 21-year-old had not engaged the handbrake.
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He finally opened his doors after police threatened to smash his window in, and later recorded a BAC reading of .142.
Police prosecutor Melissa Campbell told the court it was the second time McNaught had been caught drink driving.
In 2019, he crashed into a fence at Cooroy in the early hours of the morning.
Sergeant Campbell said on that occasion McNaught recorded a BAC of .066, and told police he had fallen asleep and thought he had taken the Gympie exit as he had not intended to be in Cooroy.
Solicitor Chris Anderson said the incident had taught McNaught “a valuable lesson”, as he was forced to pay $2000 to get his car back from impound, had to pay a significant amount in other legal and professional costs, and had lost his apprenticeship.
McNaught pleaded guilty to driving while over the middle alcohol limit, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan said it was a “sad thing” to see a young man like McNaught lose his way.
“You need assistance,” Mr Callaghan said, noting McNaught's drinking behaviour had “spiralled in the wrong direction”.
He disqualified McNaught from driving for nine months and sentenced him to four months jail, wholly suspended for a year, and placed him on probation.
Mr Callaghan advised McNaught he would likely be required to get an interlocker attached to his car due to the legislation.