Judge lambasts drink-drivers

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“This offence is far too common and the social stigma for excess breath or blood alcohol is not that great in New Zealand.”

That’s the latest in a barrage of comments from judges dealing with the district’s drink-drivers.

On Monday, district court judge John Brandts-Giesen convicted nine people for being boozed-up behind the wheel.

They’re listed on today’s Mountain Scene front page.

Both police and judges have expressed frustration with the seemingly endless line of people snaking towards the dock.

Brandts-Giesen’s comment on Monday came as he declined a discharge without conviction application from drink-driver Christopher David Goldfinch.

Goldfinch, 28, says he’s spent four months after being caught reflecting on why he drinks at all.

He also says Scene’s campaign has “opened his eyes”.

He told the judge a conviction would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending due to the stigma and it could stop him from travelling to certain countries, such as Canada.

He travels overseas for his fledgling technology business and has no previous convictions.

But Brandts-Giesen says Goldfinch wouldn’t automatically be barred and stigma should naturally follow a conviction.

The judge says discharge applications are, in a way, salvation for rich people who travel for business. “Parliament did not intend that.”

Goldfinch was caught by police on Hallenstein Street, Queenstown, on February 10 with a level of 569mcg.

The legal limit is 250 micro-grams of alcohol per litre of breath. The criminal limit is 401mcg.

He was fined $700 and banned from driving for six months.

French woman Vanessa Lorenzini, 29, had the highest level of the day – 966mcg.

She was almost four times the legal limit when she drove into a ditch off the Wanaka-Luggate Highway, on June 24, and was spotted by a passing police patrol.

Lorenzini was fined $1000 and banned for nine months.

Briton Emma Mahoney, 32, was caught on Thompson St, Queenstown, last Friday, with a level of 932mcg.

She was fined $1100 and banned for eight months.

Other drink-drivers

Sheldon Chant, 22, of Queens-town, 855mcg, Stanley St, June 14, fined $950, disqualified 9 months.

Carla Anne Munro, 42, writer, of Wanaka, 785mcg, Coronation Dr, June 24, fined $800, 7 months.

Taylor Carol Kennedy, 20, of Queenstown, 516mcg, Arrow-town, June 17, fined $600, 6 months.

Queenstown’s Matheus Zavagli Freitas, 22, 497mcg, Gorge Rd, June 24, fined $500, 6 months.

Ross John Frazer, 29, of UK, 465mcg, Hallenstein St, June 16, fined $500, 6 months.

Oliver James Southwell, 31, freelancer of Auckland, 450mcg, Park St, June 17, fined $400, disqualified six months.

What you said online

“Brilliant let’s SHAME people into changing behaviour. Because that’s worked the world over.” – Jane Guy

“Well done, Scene, awesome idea! If you drink and drive you obviously don’t care much about other people’s lives.” – Dugi Anderson

“They should think themselves lucky they got caught DIC and didn’t kill anyone.” – Darrin Evans

“Front page shaming like this could push someone struggling to come to terms with their mistake to the edge.” – Jimmy Carling

“I feel if the penalties were bigger they would be more meaningful … It’s just too easy to brush off here, there needs to be a huge shift in culture.” – Carolyn Steele

From the editor’s desk

Our ‘Name and Shame’ campaign aimed at drink-drivers has prompted a torrent of online comment.

We welcome debate and accept criticism.

But let’s remind ourselves, drink-drivers are criminals wielding cars as weapons, who have the potential to seriously injure or kill someone – or themselves – because of their carelessness.

That’s why we’re doing this: for a further deterrent.

We also want the campaign to be useful. So if you have suggestions of what we should be reporting email me: david@scene.co.nz – DAVID WILLIAMS, EDITOR