Courts, cops despair at endless parade of drink-drivers
A spate of brazen drink-drivers nabbed causing mayhem on the state's roads have been blasted by magistrates and police appalled at the arrogant attitudes of those putting others' lives at risk.
In the past 14 days alone almost 320 motorists have been caught getting behind the wheel while drunk, including multiple cases of negligent parents ferrying their children while intoxicated and a woman returning one of the state's highest ever blood alcohol tests for a female.
The negligent drivers are being dressed down in court by fed-up local magistrates, who have described drink-driving as a "driving around with a loaded firearm", and have used the horrific case of the four dead children at Oatlands on the weekend as an abject warning.
The parade of shameful behaviour uncovered by The Daily Telegraph appearing before the courts or being charged in recent days has included:
• A pensioner on a suspended licence for high-range drink driving accused of crushing a pedestrian while driving under the influence;
• An unlicensed high-flying finance boss with a blood alcohol reading of 0.107 driving his Ferrari sports car into a David Jones city shopfront, injuring a woman;
• A woman with a three-year-old in the car returning a breath test of 0.324 after crashing;
• An Illawarra woman who crashed her car almost nine times over the legal limit of 0.432 claiming she only had two drinks; and
• A former elite winter athlete blowing 0.122 after a boozy night out in Manly.
In Parramatta Court this week, Magistrate Robyn Denes slammed the behaviour of drink-drivers, saying any of the defendants before her could have been responsible for a similar tragedy to the one that killed siblings Antony, Angelina and Sienna Abdallah and their cousin Veronique Sakr last weekend.
Stephen Andrew Chantler, 49, from Narellan Vale, recorded a breath test of .205 and was so drunk that when a police officer stopped him last November he reached into the officer's kit and removed Aeroguard to spray in his mouth to disguise the alcohol.
Sentencing him to $1000 for high-range drinking and disqualifying his licence for nine months, Ms Denes said the line between what happened to the Oatlands family and Chantler "is not very big".
"Cars are weapons,'' she said. "They're lethal weapons with four bits of rubber and if you're so intoxicated you're trying to put fly spray in your mouth then, effectively, you're driving around with a loaded firearm."
And while dealing with another drink-driver, David John Nimmo from Merrylands who returned a blood-alcohol level of 0.109 after having two pints of beer, Ms Denes again raised the weekend tragedy.
"There's not a lot between what happened to those children (at Oatlands) and your actions,'' he said.
"If you hadn't been pulled up by the random breath test … who knows."
She said there was a discord between the public and the courts over how drunk-drivers should be dealt with.
"There's community outrage and the courts feel pressure of what we're supposed to do with these people,'' she said.
Ms Denes fined him $850, disqualified his licence for five months and ordered him to participate in a traffic offenders' program.
Figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show the number of convictions for low-range drink driving rose to 6070 in 2018, up from 5562 the year before, while the numbers for mid- and high-range offences fell.
Other disturbing cases heard in court yesterday include that of Illawarra woman Gemma Purcell, who said she'd had just one beer and one glass of wine but recorded a reading almost nine times the legal limit of 0.432. She is yet to be sentenced.
And Paul Bromhead, 59, is alleged to have been more than two times over the limit when his car struck a 20-year-old student using an ATM at Allambie Heights on January 22. The student's leg was broken.
Manly Court also heard the case of elite snowboarder Biba Turnbull, 25, from Curl Curl, who was disqualified from getting behind the wheel for three months after pleading guilty to mid-range drink-driving.
And at the Downing Centre Local Court, financier Norman Anthony Vancuylenberg, 41, pleaded guilty to mid-range drink-driving, driving unlicensed and dangerous driving following a crash. He blew 0.107 and will be sentenced in March.
Alcohol-related crashes claimed the lives of at least 68 people on NSW roads in 2018, accounting for nearly one in five road deaths, and another 354 serious injuries.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said it was disappointing some drivers were still not getting the message.