Dud Judges, Dud Maths, Dud Reporting

On the front cover of the NZ Herald today they have a graphic that shows 100,000 or so convictions for drunk driving, 239 people have been let off.

Herald Bomb

Somehow a lawyer, and the “decent journalist, trained and skilled” who wrote the article, thought that 200 or so of 100,000 or so is 2%, and not 0.2% that you and I both know it is. A 10x multiplication in the number of people released without conviction. 

Figures released to the Herald show 239 drink-drivers since 2007 have had excuses good enough to escape conviction – but the Ministry of Justice could not give the names of the judges who granted the discharges, or the reasons.

The online version of the article doesn’t show the number of convictions (making it even more misleading as without this the reader has no way of knowing that it should be 0.2%)

Steve Cullen, who also specialises in drink-driving law, said 239 cases in five years was about 2 per cent, and highlighted how “very rare” discharges were. “That’s because they need to be able to show that the penalty is disproportionate to their actions,” he said.

The 2 per cent of drink-drivers who did get discharges were likely to be people in important jobs or positions that they needed to continue.

Whilst is is poor form for dud judges to let off drink drivers it is more poor form to run a front page story about a problem that isn’t really a problem….just 0.2% of cases…in other words 99.8% don’t get off.


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  • Dave

    At that rate, I would suggest a 0.2% escape or let off rate, is not due to dud judges. If only my strike rate with fishing was 99.8%.

    • Tom

      *sigh* yes, if only..

  • I was observing in court when one girl was released without conviction though in her case I was supportive of the decision. She was only slightly over the limit while her friend was smashed. She decided to catch a taxi home with her friend and return for the car in the morning, but the vehicle was parked in a dark area of a large car park. She drove the car 20m so it was under a light only to have an officer come over, talk to her, breath test her and charge her. In cases like that I can’t see a justification for a driving ban and luckily the judge agreed. But in the other 238 cases I can’t comment.

  • Patrick

    Never let the facts get in the way of a good story – NZ Herald excels again

  • peterwn

    A 99.8% success rate is a credit to the police (including their prosecutors) for gettings things right under trying circumstances. Unfortunately a significant portion of the 0.2% would be relatively wealthy people who hire smart lawyers to try and ward off disqualification. They also hire smart lawyers to try and get speeding and other charges thrown out when they are nearing 100 demerits.

  • peterwn


    Here is one who did not get off and he must have spent a fortune taking it all the way to the Supreme Court.

    • le sphincter

      Rich pricks !

      They will try on anything !

      He said he was denied his right to contact a lawyer- in Sydney!

      But it gets better… the police said go ahead ring him as they handed him the cell phone….. but he couldnt remember the number

      he must make the list of the biggest rich pricks around

  • Orange

    Any way of getting the officer’s phone number?

  • Callum

    Just to clarify, there is not a 99.8% conviction rate. All those numbers show is that 0.2% of those convicted are then discharged, It tells you nothing of those who successfully defend a drink driving charge.