DRINK DRIVING: court hears of the highs and lows
DRINK DRIVING: court hears of the highs and lows Peter Carruthers

From one sip over to far too much - drink drivers in court

DRINK-driving offences provided a day of contrasts in Gympie Magistrates Court's most recent traffic sittings.

They ranged from a Kandanga man barely one sip over to a Gympie driver so drunk magistrate M Baldwin wondered how he could have imagined he was able to drive.

At the high end of the day's drink-driving matters was Shaun Patrick Gilliland, whose excuse to the court was that it was his birthday.

His 0.151% reading prompted Mrs Baldwin to ask: "How could you be that far over the limit and think you could drive?”

Gilliland, 26, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of liquor on April 8.

Imposing 12 months probation and disqualification, with a court ordered anti-drink driving program, Mrs Baldwin told him: "You don't get off for it because it was your birthday.”

Peter David Hatfield, 33, of Gympie was fined a total of $880 and disqualified for seven months after pleading guilty to driving on a licence he did not realise was suspended by the State Penalties Enforcement Register on April 11, while he also had a blood-alcohol level of 0.111%.

Brendan Lee Lyden, 36, of Gympie was fined $580 and disqualified from driving for three months after he pleaded guilty to driving on April 8 with a blood-alcohol level of 0.091%.

Mrs Baldwin told him that at his likely speed and alcohol level he would have needed 17m more to to respond to any emergency on the road.

"If someone had been killed you'd never live with yourself, but you would be living in jail for some time,” she told him.

"It's my first and it'll be my last,” Kilkivan driver Benjamin Michael Swinburne said of his appearance in the court on Thursday.

Mrs Baldwin told him it was unfortunate he had not left it another half an hour before driving home, because it might have brought his alcohol reading back to within the legal limit.

"I likely had three drinks at the pub,” he said.

Swinburne, 27, pleaded guilty to driving on the Wide Bay Hwy on March 8 with a reading of 0.062%.

P-plate driver Brodie Miles Lees, 18, of Victory Heights, was nowhere near the normal drink-driving limit when apprehended by police on April 9 with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.024%.

The court was told he was stopped by police at 1.14am.

"It's easy for P-platers,” Mrs Baldwin told him, referring to the zero alcohol limit for P-plate drivers.

"If you have any alcohol you don't get in a car.”

But she said she took into account his "absolute lack of history, which is unbelievable for someone your age.”

She fined him $350 and disqualified him for three months.

Only a sip over was landscaper and farmer Thomas Walter Hamilton, 64, of Kandanga, who pleaded guilty to driving at 0.051% on March 24 at Imbil.

"Unfortunately there has to be a cut-off line and it's 0.05%,” Mrs Baldwin said, fining him $300 and disqualifying him for two months, with a work licence.

"He wouldn't have driven if he'd realised he was over the limit,” Hamilton's legal representative said.

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