David Stuart

Magistrate's low tolerance for alcohol-fuelled drivers

IT MUST feel like groundhog day for magistrates who turn up to local courtrooms on a daily basis only to face the same drink driving charges over and over again.

This week Magistrate Robyn Denes expressed her frustration in Grafton Local Court at the community's inability to take responsibility behind the wheel.

>> RELATED: Court frustrated at endless string of drink drivers

Faced with sentencing a Clarence Valley tradesman who was caught low range drinking driving on Boxing Day, Ms Denes took the slightly unusual step of making him stay in court while she sentenced other drink drivers.

"I want you to see the problems this causes and the prevalence of this in the community," she said. "And think about how much you need your licence."

It's not the first time Ms Denes has made her frustrations about the prevalence of drink driving in the Clarence Valley known while laying down the law in the courtroom.

10 drink drivers by 10.10am

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

At Maclean Local Court in October 2013, the prevalence of drink-driving offences on the court list - 16 people of the 50 listed - led Ms Denes to comment on the amount of drink-driving offenders she dealt with and the problem it represented for the community.

"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.

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

Warning: Drink drivers go to jail

ON MONDAY,  24th of March, 2014 Magistrate Robyn Denes warned drink-drivers appearing in Grafton Local Court can expect no leniency if they continue to dominate proceedings.

Ms Denes expressed her frustration at the number of drink-drivers appearing before her during the morning session.   "I've already seen four or five drink-drivers already this morning," she said as she handed down a sentence to a high-range drink-driving offender.

A total of 11 drink-drivers fronted the court that day, with four charged with high-range offences, five mid-range and two in the special range (for P-plate drivers). 

Your record tells me you don't take your obligations on the road very seriously.

Two Clarence Valley residents admonished for poor choices

In February this year two Clarence Valley residents were admonished in Grafton Local Court for their poor choices to drive after drinking alcohol.

The first to appear recorded a mid-range alcohol reading of 0.082 following a police stop in South Grafton. On pleading guilty, the defence said the client had gone to pick up her partner because he was unable to get a taxi, but fully accepted any wrongdoing.

"This is not about a charge about drinking, it's about the decision to get behind the wheel afterwards and endanger other people's lives," Magistrate Robyn Denes said.

The second also pleaded guilty to a low-range drink-driving offence, but asked for leniency as he had sick brothers outside of the Clarence Valley and needed a license to be able to visit them.

His history did not assist him, however, with his last drink-driving offence believed to be in 2005.

"Your record tells me you don't take your obligations on the road very seriously," Ms Denes said.

"Again, it's ... about the people you put in danger."

Nurse 'should've known not to drive after drinks'

IN May 2013 Magistrate Robyn Denes told a nurse convicted of drink-driving that he should be only too aware of the dangers of the offence he committed.

"At your work you see the results of people who drink and drive," Ms Denes said.

PCA ranges

The term PCA means proscribed concentration of alcohol and refers to the number of grams of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

  • High range: 0.150 and above
  • Mid range: 0.08 to <0.150
  • Low range: 0.05 to <0.08
  • Special range: 0.02 to <0.05
  • Novice range: 0.00

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