Mum jailed over crash ‘got drunk as a toddler’: Court
A drink-driving mother who's been jailed for crashing on the Sydney Harbour Bridge with two kids in the car got drunk for the first time as a toddler, a court heard.
The struggling alcoholic caused peak-hour chaos in December when she got behind the wheel while more than six times the legal limit.
She broke down in tears as Downing Centre Local Court heard she's now lost custody of her young daughter and son, who weren't seriously hurt in the accident.
The 41-year-old pleaded guilty in February to dangerous driving and driving with a High Range blood-alcohol level.
On Wednesday the woman, who can't be named, was sentenced to 11 months behind bars with a non-parole period of six months.
The Lane Cove North local was also handed a one-year licence disqualification with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device to be installed on her car.
The mum returned a staggering 0.32 reading after her Mitsubishi Mirage rear-ended a stationary Toyota Prius on the iconic bridge at 4.30pm on December 14.
The petite woman admitted she drank "a bottle of vodka" that day and Magistrate Erin Kennedy said people have died from consuming such an extraordinary amount of grog.
"To even be functioning and awake and driving a car is terrifying," the magistrate said.
The offender's longstanding battle with substance abuse stems from when she was hospitalised as a three-year-old after her alcoholic mother's boyfriend gave her booze, the court heard.
Defence barrister Arjun Chhabra said the mum is desperate to sober up and get her children back but relapsed a week ago after learning she'd be at risk of sexual assault in prison.
She's been attending daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and visiting an addiction psychiatrist weekly, the court heard.
The mum is also taking antidepressants and three different anti-craving medications, which cause vomiting and nausea "if she drinks a drop of alcohol", Mr Chhabra said.
If the mum is to have any chance of reuniting with her children she needs to remain abstinent, which is an "incredibly powerful motivator for her," he said.
"She'll be spending the rest of her life making it up to them," Magistrate Kennedy added.
The woman softly wept as the court heard how police tried to pull her erratically swerving car over for one kilometre while other drivers dodged it.
"Her eyes were half closed. Her movement was slow and uncoordinated," Magistrate Kennedy said.
"It's difficult to imagine much worse facts."
Airbags went off when the collision finally happened and the mum was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital with her incredibly distressed youngsters as a precaution.
"It is only through good fortune nothing more serious happened regarding injury or death to be quite frank," Mr Chhabra said.
The crash caused one lane in each direction to be shut, sparking huge delays for commuters across the city. Southbound traffic was banked back into Lane Cove tunnel and northbound traffic was queued back over the Anzac bridge.
The court heard that weeks prior to the smash, the mum feared she had cancer from preliminary test results coupled with a family history of the disease.
With trembling hands she took off her jewellery on Wednesday and handed it to a friend before being led away by custodial officers.
But the woman's lawyer has lodged an appeal.