Drunk driver was six times over limit: Dannevirke man escapes jail sentence

A man escaped a jail sentence when he appeared for sentence in Dannevirke District Court on a drink-driving charge.

Matthew Ronald Whiteside, 47, was charged with driving with a breath-alcohol level of 1835, more than six times the legal limit of 250mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, on High St, Dannevirke on January 4.

Counsel Alan Cressey said he didn’t think he had ever seen such a high reading.

He said Whiteside had driven to the BP petrol station to pump up a flat tyre.

Judge Lance Rowe saidWhiteside was stopped by police at 8.55pm.

“You were stopped because of the manner of your driving. It goes without saying that you were highly intoxicated.

“There would have been people going about their business at the time of day. It’s a miracle you didn’t kill someone.”

Judge Rowe noted Whiteside had three previous convictions but said the last was in 1996.

“Clearly you have some issues going on.”

He said one of his roles as a judge was to keep the community safe.

“With a breath-alcohol level that high a judge would be entitled to impose a term of imprisonment to keep the community safe.

“You need to sort yourself out. This can’t happen again.”

Judge Rowe sentenced Whiteside to three months’ community detention, imposing a 7pm to 7am curfew, and 12 months’ intensive supervision.

Whiteside was ordered to undertake drug and alcohol treatment in a residential facility if necessary, but he told the judge he had already done so.

He was disqualified from driving for 28 days and ordered to apply for an interlock licence. The interlock device would immobilise his vehicle if it detected alcohol.

Judge Rowe said Whiteside would be disqualified until he applied for the interlock which would stay in place for 12 months. He would then be able to apply for a zero alcohol licence which would remain for three years.

“This needs to be the last time you appear in court.”

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