When you hear about a drink driving accident, it is easy to condemn the people involved. It can prove much harder to hold yourself to that standard when you have had a few drinks and have somewhere to be.
Studying publicised incidents may help you understand the reality of drink driving traffic offences and the impact they can make.
1. November 30, 2013 – Anne Bampton (SA)
Anne Bampton of Adelaide serves as proof that no one stands above the law-even a sitting judge. Judge Bampton took to the roads with a blood-alcohol level of 0.12. Witnesses observed Bampton’s car swerving out of her lane several times before she veered too far and struck a cyclist.
Although the cyclist came away with only a nosebleed, Bampton faced harsh criticism. The incident impacted her career, in the short-term and long-term. She could not sit on cases related to traffic offences for a year and could not sentence offenders ‘materially affected by alcohol.’
From Anne Bampton’s experience, we learn that often drink driving threatens more than your physical safety-a conviction could damage or even end your career. It could also threaten the life of a stranger.
2. March 23, 2014 – Michael Craig Bradley (NSW)
Police established Michael Craig Bradley drove while intoxicated on March 23. What they couldn’t agree on was how intoxicated he was. The 54-year-old registered at a 0.151 blood-alcohol level, which made his offence a high-range charge.
But Bradley argued that in the 28 minutes between the initial traffic stop and the breath-analysis test, his blood-alcohol concentration rose. An expert witness agreed that Bradley likely had a 0.140 blood-alcohol level while he was actually behind the wheel. This lower concentration put Bradley’s offence in the mid-range.
However, the magistrate considered this estimate unreliable and found Bradley guilty of the high-range offence. The magistrate fined him $2,500 dollars, placed him on a good behaviour bond and banned him from driving for two years.
Some drivers believe they can drive without consequences if their blood-alcohol level nears the legal limit. But while a technicality may get you out of trouble, it may also result in harsher penalties.
3. December 14, 2014 – Damon John Brown (NSW)
On the evening of December 14, Damon John Brown ran a red light, colliding with another car. Brown checked on the other party, but then left the scene. He drove to a car park, with his driver-side airbag deployed, severely limiting his vision. When police approached, Brown claimed the damaged car didn not belong to him and resisted arrest. The officers measured his blood alcohol level at 0.164.
Brown frequently attended local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. His attorney claimed the incident represented one of only two relapses since Brown started the program. On the night in question, Brown visited his child in Tasmania and had a drink afterward.
During sentencing, the magistrate considered Brown’s criminal record, which included assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault on police. The magistrate jailed Brown for six months, fined him $3,000 and suspended his driving privilege for three years.
When an intoxicated driver gets behind the wheel, they must accept the consequences that follow. Sometimes, previous good behaviour has little bearing in the aftermath. But previous bad behaviour can result in severe penalties.
If you decide to drink and drive, you cannot choose which consequences follow. The trip may occur without incident, but it is more than more likely to result in damage to property, lives and reputation.
If you face a drink driving charge, you need support and understanding. Without the right legal support, this one mistake could alter your entire life. Seek legal help to get you through this difficult time. Then, learn from these infamous drunk drivers to protect your future.