‘You could be going to jail’

AN unemployed Lavington man who drank for nearly four hours at a hotel faces the prospect of going to jail for drink-driving.

Magistrate Tony Murray said in Albury Local Court yesterday Andrew Robert Ditchfield had a blood alcohol limit almost five times the legal limit.

Ditchfield, 52, of Michelle Avenue, pleaded guilty to high-range drink-driving with a reading of 0.230.

Mr Murray asked how far Ditchfield intended to drive after leaving the Northside Hotel and was told about three kilometres.

But police apprehended him about 500 metres into his journey.

“You are at some risk of going to jail for this offence,” Mr Murray said when ordering a pre-sentence report and adjourning the case for sentencing on March 18.

Police told the court Ditchfield had previously been to court for drink-driving.

He was stopped for a random breath test about 6.08pm on December 7 near the intersection of Wahroonga Road and Sanders Street.

Ditchfield produced his licence and police noticed he was slurring his words, his eyes were bloodshot and glazed.

He was arrested and taken to the police station where officers saw he was unsteady on his feet in the charge room.

He told police he had been drinking middies of full strength beer from 2pm to 5.50pm.

But he was unable to recall how many he had drunk and police suspended his licence.

Meanwhile, the Albury Local Court was told how another Lavington man was stopped by a highway patrol officer on January 3 for high-range drink-driving after drinking heavily at a hotel after attending his son’s grave on the anniversary of his death.

Solicitor Mark Cronin said Neville Betts’ son Bradley had died 17 years earlier from a single blow after falling to the ground and hitting his head.

It was suggested by Mr Cronin that magistrate Tony Murray should take into account the circumstances when sentencing Betts.

Mr Cronin said Betts went to a hotel, stayed longer than he intended and conceded there was no excuse for drink-driving.

Betts, 64, of Heathwood Avenue, Lavington, pleaded guilty to high-range drink-driving.

“I note the significance of the date,” Mr Murray said when imposing a 12-month driving ban, a $400 fine and an 18-month bond.

It is a condition of the bond that Betts must complete a drink-driver education course.

Police were patrolling Union Road about 6.55pm when they saw Betts drive his vehicle from the car park at the Northside Hotel.

The officer activated the lights on her vehicle and followed him along Buchhorn Street, into Sanders Street and then a business laneway before he stopped in Kalimna Crescent.

Betts was red and flushed in the face, smelt of alcohol and was slurring his words.

He was arrested and a later breath analysis provided a reading of 0.170.

Betts said he had decided to drive home because he was only going slowly down the laneways and would not hurt anyone if he had an accident.