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Sparked off by panic attack

Drunk-driver caused triple smash, badly injuring woman

A Masterton drunk-driver who smashed into a vehicle and damaged a police patrol car, had consumed a cocktail of alcohol and pills before getting behind the wheel.

Elizabeth Jane Williamson, 36, pleaded guilty to charges of careless driving and causing injury while driving drunk last year on November 5.

She was found to have a blood alcohol reading of 186mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The legal limit for drivers aged 20 years and over is 50mg.

On Tuesday in Masterton District Court, Judge Barbara Morris sentenced Williamson to 18 months of intensive supervision, 100 hours community work, ordered her to pay $1000 in reparation, and banned her from driving for seven months.

On the day of the crash, Williamson had consumed half a litre of vodka, some bourbon, and prescription medication, before getting into a vehicle.

Police arrived at the property and told her not to leave, but she drove off.

Judge Morris said Williamson was travelling in excess of the 50km/h speed limit along Pownall St.

The scene of the November 5, 2017, crash on Pownall St, Masterton.

She “lost control of the vehicle and ploughed into” the victim’s car”, which smashed into the police car.

Williamson’s vehicle crashed into the fence bordering Millennium Native Forest Reserve.

“You were very lucky that no one was killed,” the judge said.

However, the judge said the victim sustained “significant” injuries, including a fracture that required an operation and the insertion of a plate.

Her injuries meant she could not work for three months, which had a “huge impact” on her family and financial situation.

Judge Morris said the defendant’s offending “was sparked off by a panic attack when police arrived” at the address she was at.

Lawyer Virginia Pearson said her client had indicated she was “incredibly remorseful” and had penned a letter of apology to the victim.

Williamson had booked into an alcohol treatment programme, and had been regularly seeing a counsellor.

Ms Pearson said her client had been proactive in addressing her addiction and mental health problems.

Williamson was receiving benefits and was not in a position to pay a large reparation sum.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Ian McDonald said damage to the patrol car amounted to just short of $7500.

The judge took into account Williamson’s willingness to go into treatment, her guilty plea, and her apology letter.

“Normally for a charge such as this, and with a reading such as this, the starting point [for sentence] would be imprisonment.”

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