An Inverell man who was caught driving more than four times the legal alcohol limit had been downing "red wine as he would beer", a court has heard.
Inverell Local Court was told that on November 29, Mark Hargreaves had been commiserating with a friend over the death of a long time colleague, when he decided to go down town to buy a newspaper.
Pulled over for a random breath test by police on Arthur Street, he was arrested following the positive result, with a blood analysis at the station returning a high-range reading of 0.207.
Police facts tendered to court on Thursday detailed Hargreaves' behaviour in custody had been "hostile" and "unremorseful", calling officers the C-word and "attempting to name drop" several identities in town.
Hargreaves' solicitor, Sue Daiken, submitted that her client had "learned his lesson", and had been participating in drug and alcohol counselling at Armajun since the incident.
She said it had been "a wake up call" for him, going from having three other low range drink-driving charges on his record more than five years ago to deteriorating in "a dramatic fashion" to this high-range offence.
"He states he has always been a beer drinker... but has started drinking red wine," she said, submitting on the night in question he'd had more than one bottle of it the night before his arrest, consuming it "as he would beer".
She added that he'd had to face "embarrassment" from his commercial acquaintances to seek character references to tender to court.
Conceding his behaviour after the arrest aggravated the matter, Mrs Daiken noted there was nothing about his driving that caused concern.
As someone who had worked on several major projects in Inverell since 2010, she told the magistrate that he was currently working on a housing development, and was perhaps eligible for the minimum punishment with the ability to pay a hefty fine.
Magistrate Brett Thomas said the 60-year-old's decision to get behind the wheel "for something so trivial" as to buy a newspaper "defies description".
Balancing his personal circumstances with the severity of the offending, Magistrate Thomas said it was good to see Hargreaves "doing something about" his drinking.
He was fined $2000 and placed on a community corrections order for 12 months. He was disqualified from driving for seven months, and will have the interlock in place for six months more than the minimum of two years, with the conditions he continue drug and alcohol counselling and complete the traffic offender's program.
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