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'Nowhere to go': Drinking driver warned that next time means jail

Author
Open Justice,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Jul 2022, 4:20pm
Joseph Johns has been warned that he will go to jail if he is caught drink-driving again. Photo / NZME
Joseph Johns has been warned that he will go to jail if he is caught drink-driving again. Photo / NZME

'Nowhere to go': Drinking driver warned that next time means jail

Author
Open Justice,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Jul 2022, 4:20pm

A "functioning alcoholic" who was caught drink-driving four times within five months has been warned that next time, he will go to jail.

Joseph Barry Johns, 36, was sentenced to nine months of home detention when he appeared in the Napier District Court on Tuesday.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to four charges of driving with excess breath alcohol and one of driving under the influence of a drug, which the court was told was methamphetamine.

Defence counsel Jerome Webby said Johns had gone to prison for drink-driving in 2009, but had managed to avoid similar offending since then.

He was a hard worker who had a good, strong record of employment and was valued by his employer.

Webby described him as a "functioning alcoholic" and argued for a sentence of home detention, rather than imprisonment, as it would allow Johns to stay in his job and get rehabilitative help in the community.

Johns had written a letter of remorse and sold his car, he said.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh said that Johns' breath alcohol readings ranged from 600 to 748 micrograms per litre – between twice and three times the legal limit for driving.

She said he had committed the offences in a "flurry of activity" between August last year and February this year.

A pre-sentence report recommended home detention but by a "fine margin", the judge said.

The fact that there had been no offending since February and that Johns had sold his car indicated that the "penny has dropped", she said.

She sentenced Johns to nine months of home detention with conditions to undergo an assessment for alcohol and drug counselling, and any treatment recommended by the assessment.

Johns was also forbidden from using or consuming alcohol or non-prescription drugs while on home detention.

"If there is any further offending ... there is absolutely nowhere to go except to jail. Do you understand that?" The judge asked.

Johns indicated that he did.

- Ric Stevens, Open Justice