Number of drink drive offenders shocks magistrate

DEALING with 10 drink drivers by 10.10am was enough to put Magistrate Robyn Denes over the limit.

In Maclean Local Court yesterday Ms Denes was preparing to sentence Boe Jasmine Gibson, who had pleaded guilty to a mid-range PCA charge.

It was the first time Gibson had broken drink-driving laws, a factor Ms Denes considered in her sentencing.

But it was the prevalence of drink-driving offences on the court list - 16 people of the 50 listed - that led her to comment on the amount of drink-driving offenders she dealt with and the problem it represented for the community.

Ms Denes said the numbers she dealt with on her circuit were alarming.

"I was in Grafton yesterday and the numbers were similar," she said.

"Later this week I'll be in Kyogle, which is even smaller than here, and there will be 10 there."

Ms Denes said when you extrapolated these figures to the state, the numbers became really worrying.

"I don't know if it's an attitude on the North Coast to be more relaxed about drinking and driving," Ms Denes said.

"This is a problem that's becoming endemic. I can't work out why people are willing to risk their jobs and their lives.

"Is alcohol so important to you that you can't make the decision not to drink and drive any more?"

Ms Denes said sentencing someone like Gibson was difficult because she was unlikely to offend again.

"My problem is your reading is at the high end of mid range," she said. "There is a need for general and specific deterrence."

Ms Denes convicted Gibson, fined her $800 and disqualified her from driving for the minimum time of six months.

The trickiness of her role became apparent a little later, when she convicted two other women without penalty just before the morning adjournment.

"I left your cases until now so other people did not think this is how I might deal with them," Ms Denes said.



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