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Race to get home results in loss of license

A man who drove drunk in an attempt to make it home before a home detention curfew has avoided jail time, but it’s come at the cost of his license.

Brian Nightingale appeared recently in Masterton District Court, facing charges of careless driving and a third or subsequent offence of driving with excess blood alcohol.

Defence counsel Andrea Pearson said that although Nightingale had previous convictions for this offence, he had not been intending to drive at all on the night of the incident.

She said that he had also been grieving the passing of a dear friend.

“He was reconnecting with friends in Martinborough that day, and there was a lot of remembering and reminiscing about this friend,” Pearson said.

“Unfortunately, he was left in a situation with no sober driver.”

She said that Nightingale had taken all reasonable steps since – including engaging with counselling service Pathways – to try and show that it was safe for him to have a community-based sentence.

“He will jump through required hoops – medical tests, liver and blood tests – to earn his license back in due course, which protects public interest,” Pearson said.

Nightingale had family and friends supporting him in court.

The incident took place in November last year when Nightingale was driving home from Martinborough and passing through Longbush.

“The weather was fine, and the road was dry,” Judge Stephen Harrop said.

“You approached a corner, lost control, struck a bank on the opposite lane, and your vehicle overturned multiple times.

“You said you were trying to get home in time for a home detention curfew.”

The home detention curfew related to a drink-driving conviction received the previous year.

According to police records, Nightingale’s blood tests had shown 206mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, something Judge Harrop noted as significantly high given the limit is 50mg.

“You were lucky you or anyone coming the other way wasn’t killed,” Judge Harrop said.

“Driving at that kind of level, on a 100kmph road, you’re a potential killer because you’re not able to react to anything coming the other way.”

Noting that Nightingale didn’t intend to drive that day, Judge Harrop said that the risk to others was the same no matter the reason and that alcohol had played a key part in the events.

“It’s an insidious combination of factors because it doesn’t just affect the ability to drive, it affects the ability to decide whether to drive.”

However, Judge Harrop acknowledged that Nightingale’s car was written off during the crash and that his last disqualification was 11 years ago [although this had followed a string of prior drink driving offences].

Judge Harrop indefinitely disqualified Nightingale from driving and said he would need to satisfy the director of transport that he was entitled to have his license returned.

“You also have good references, and I also note that you’ve served a reasonable period of detention with a curfew over the past 44 days.”

Nightingale was also ordered to attend alcohol and drug counselling, recommended by probation, and told to pay back $284.14 to police for medical fees.

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