Magistrate's shock at woman's first-time drink drive reading
A GYMPIE woman with a lifetime of flawless driving this week fell from grace with a drink drive reading that prompted near-disbelief from Magistrate M Baldwin.
Elizabeth Anne Hall's 0.205% reading exceeded that of repeat offender Darius Meli Solien, who showed a blood alcohol content of 0.193%.
They were among drink drivers who pleaded guilty to driving under the influence when they appeared in the court on Thursday.
"Mrs Hall, what on earth...?" Mrs Baldwin said to the woman, 56, after Hall pleaded guilty to her first and only driving offence.
The court was told she was caught driving in Hughes Tce on July 10 with no headlights.
Mrs Baldwin said Mrs Hall would receive the benefit of her "early plea, remorse and, most importantly as far as I'm concerned, your absolute lack of previous history.
"At four times the legal limit, you would have taken four seconds longer to react (to emergent road situations)," she said.
"The next 12 months without a licence will be the longest in your life, but you're still alive," she said, fining Hall $1200 and disqualifying her from holding a drivers licence for 12 months.
In contrast, Mr Solien, 36, of Gympie appeared as a repeat offender going close to jail for major drink driving offences.
"It's lucky we're not having an inquest into your death or that you are not facing a charge of dangerous driving causing death," she said.
Mrs Baldwin said the consequences of drink driving were potentially much more serious at the Caledonian Hill end of the Gympie CBD, where Mr Solien was caught.
It was also a hot spot for the unexpected, with "teenagers on skateboards," older motorists and learner drivers posed unpredictable challenges.
"It beggars belief that they think we can avoid them," she said, adding that someone in Mr Solien's condition at the time "could not hope to avoid a crash."
Solien was close to imprisonment, the offence being "his second within the relevant period and third all up."
Solicitor Greg Wildie, appearing for Solien, said his client had battled alcoholism and had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous "but fell off the wagon,"
Mrs Baldwin placed Solien on 12 months probation and disqualified him from driving for 16 months.