A looming disaster

September 5th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Northern Advocate reports:

A drunk Whangarei teacher, whose erratic driving forced concerned motorists to take the keys from her car when she stopped at lights, was more than five times over the legal limit.

Five times? At least she only teaches the kids, not drives them to school.

A police summary of facts said Ash was driving on Western Hills Dr about 6.10pm on February 1 when her driving – including weaving from lane to lane and appearing confused and lost – attracted the attention of other motorists.

They were so concerned that when Ash stopped at traffic lights a motorists took the keys from her car’s ignition and called police.

Ash was unable to complete a passive roadside breath test.

Unable or unwilling? How blotto do you have to be to be unable to do a breath test?

She refused to tell police what type of alcohol, or how much, she had been drinking. The blood test recorded a level of 424 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, more than five times the legal limit of 80mg.

That is a massively high level. For a woman weighing 65 kgs, you’d need to do around 15 drinks in an hour to get that much alcohol in your blood. At that level you would be close to passing out.

Ash was sentenced to three months’ community detention, 150 hours’ community work, 15 months’ supervision and indefinitely disqualified for her third drink-driving conviction.

I wonder if that is enough. To have three actual convictions means you have probably driven drunk well over 100 times. Her level of alcohol was massive, and she seems quite unrepentant.  I fear someone is going to end up dead or injured at her hands.

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16 Responses to “A looming disaster”

  1. freedom101 (513 comments) says:

    If she is caught driving while disqualified then she should go to prison. What is the penalty for driving while disqualified?

    There needs to be serious consequences for breaking that restriction.

    If prison is the penalty then I think that the disqualification and other sentencing is fine, but my suspicion is that there would be more web bus tickets if she drove again.

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  2. quirky_username (25 comments) says:

    I suspect this sentencing was put in place to try and resolve the cause of her problems – a severe alcohol problem (implied by the number of convictions and the fact she was that intoxicated at 6:10 on a Wednesday afternoon). The community detention and community work are the punishment parts of the sentence. Community detention means she has electronically monitored curfews of up to 84 hours a week. Not only will this be an restriction on her freedom, it will also likely prevent her either going out drinking or going out and attempting to drive. The 15 months supervision (which is a reasonably long period of supervision in the scheme of things) will be designed to attempt to rehabilitate to her to prevent further offending. Supervision comes with conditions – it is highly likely these conditions will include an alcohol assessment, alcohol counselling, attendance at some form of programme to do with alcohol addiction etc. A probation officer will oversee the supervision and if she is not complying she will be charged with breaching. The punishment for the breach will depend on the type of breach. The penalty for driving whilst disqualified depends on how many times the defendant has done so. Maximum penalty is imprisionment.

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  3. Chris2 (775 comments) says:

    This also raises the issue of why this woman, who already had two previous drink-drive convictions, was still a registered teacher.

    Why had the Teacher’s Council not already revoked her registration?

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  4. Paulus (2,707 comments) says:

    Assume she still teaching – one of the sisterhood so she is alright.
    Untouchable, without years of committees to disbarr her.

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  5. GPT1 (2,021 comments) says:

    That sentence is about right for a third go. Loosely fine for first, large fine/community work for second and then liberty gets endangered third and onwards (except in Auckland which seems to be little fine, slightly bigger fine, a really good fine, community work, more community work and maybe some CD …). Good to see a combination of deterrence (CD and CW) and rehabilitation (intensive supervision) – if it works that is in the interests of everyone. If she doesn’t take the help then expect prison in future.

    That is an amazing amount over. To be able to cope with that amount of alcohol in the system without dying suggests a lot of practice.

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  6. wreck1080 (3,999 comments) says:

    i blame the drinking age at 18 :)

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  7. GPT1 (2,021 comments) says:

    wreck that is gold.

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  8. MikeMan (173 comments) says:

    She was as pissed as a rat at 6.10pm on a weekday.

    How is 84 hours a week of curfew going to stop that? Say the curfew is 7pm to 7am, 7 days a week. Also assume that she is working 45 hours a week (9 hour days, probably not far off for a teacher). There are still nearly 40 hours of time for her to drink and drive.

    We need court mandated breathalyser interlocks on cars COMBINED with a suspended jail term that activates if she is caught drinking and driving or driving a car without an interlock.

    I think that there should be a lot more use made of suspended sentences, they do tend to focus the mind a little.

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  9. KevinH (1,253 comments) says:

    The sentence imposed by the courts is entirely consistent with an offence of this gravitas, however the defendant is employed in the Public Sector , in Education, which carries a degree of social responsibility with that position, and despite that level of responsibilty, has appeared before the courts on three occasions for the same offence.
    It would be therefore prudent that the courts consider an additional requirement in sentencing in that the defendant attend an alcohol rehabilitation programme or alternately seek assistance with her alcohol related issues.

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  10. quirky_username (25 comments) says:

    The intensive supervision is in some ways similar to a suspended sentence – she has to do the requirements of her supervision for 15 months, if she stuffs up she gets further penalty.

    Alcohol interlocks will be available as a sentencing option from 10 September for repeat offenders and first time offenders who are more than twice the limit.

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  11. boredboy (250 comments) says:

    GPT1 (1,869) Says:

    September 5th, 2012 at 10:59 am
    “more community work and maybe some CD”

    Cross-dressing?

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  12. GPT1 (2,021 comments) says:

    Yes compulsory cross dressing. It’s commonly referred to as the “Hoover Hit” … Or possibly community detention (ie curfew)

    Suspended sentences do not really exist anymore. Home and Community Detention fills that gap. There is a sentence of “to come up for sentence if called upon” within a certain time (up to 12 months) but that is at the lower end of the sentencing heirarchy – it tends to be used for low level offenders who need an incentive to stay out of poo. Basically if convicted of another sentence in that period they are resentenced on the original charge.

    If she was to be convicted of EBA on a sentence for EBA imprisonment would almost be inevitable (with the possible exception of some Auckland Judges) so the effect is the same.

    Kevin H she has been suspended from driving for longer than 12 months so will have to reapply for her licence which can include alcohol assessment and the Intensive Supervision will include assessment for drug and alcohol treatment and if deemed suitable to undertake such course or courses to the satisfaction of the probation officer and programme provider. In otherwords I think your valid point is met by the sentencing.

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  13. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Article: “Ash was sentenced to three months’ community detention, 150 hours’ community work, 15 months’ supervision and indefinitely disqualified for her third drink-driving conviction.”

    DPF: “I wonder if that is enough.”

    It is clearly not enough.

    But when Danielle Reeves was killed when a twice disqualified driver was trying to show off his “drifting”, he received just 9 months of home detention.

    So unless this anonymous teacher met a reasonably minded judge, and she was unaware that she could simply appeal until she gets a lefty judge who’ll reduce her sentence, she’s never going to get anything more severe than a disqualification she’ll ignore.

    Who in the country is pushing for more lenient sentences for these pieces of shit? No-one but our judges and a few hard-core lefties.

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  14. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    This woman is obviously an alcoholic who is probably drunk most of the time she is teaching. This raises an issue whether she is fit and proper to be a teacher.

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  15. MrLimerick (10 comments) says:

    I remember one 5th form English teacher I had who was an alcoholic… she would slap down a book for us to read, with a pre-printed list of questions to answer, then retire to her office to hit the bottle. She was also the Dean for Senior Girls!

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  16. HB (331 comments) says:

    it doesn’t say if she is currently employed or not.

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