Judges need to harden up

If we can get done for one kilometer over the speed limit, why is a doctor getting away with being four times over the drink driving limit?

A doctor living in Blenheim has been discharged without conviction after she was caught drink-driving at more than four times the legal limit.

Wendy Louise McDonald Florence, 50, appeared in the Blenheim District Court for sentencing on the charge last Monday, after driving with a blood-alcohol level of 326 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood on September 8.

The legal limit at the time was 80mg, and is now 50mg.

Her lawyer Rob Harrison argued for a discharge without conviction on her behalf.

Florence was a qualified doctor in the United States, but had spent some time as a stay-at-home mother of her children in Blenheim, he said.

She intended to become a registered doctor in New Zealand, which would require a refresher course in the States, followed by a supervised training programme in New Zealand.

Harrison told the court his client had been a sober alcoholic for 10 years.

Bulldust.  There’s a lie in court right there.   The odds of a alcie going off the wagon for the first time, that spectacularly and getting caught drink driving are minuscule.   

“If she has a conviction that’s a double whammy because if she gets back into the United States and gets her licence there, and then comes back to New Zealand [she] has to apply again here.”

If convicted, Florence would have to disclose the conviction to the medical council she was applying for a licence from, on top of her alcohol addiction, he said.

Medical Council of New Zealand communications manager George Symmes said a conviction would not necessarily stop a person being able to become a registered doctor in New Zealand.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Graham Single argued against a discharge without conviction.

Speaking to the Express on Wednesday, Single said the outcome was effectively “hiding” the offending from any medical council.

“[A conviction] doesn’t necessarily mean she can’t be a doctor . . . it [would] become harder for her because [medical councils] need to know you’re a sober and fit person to be a doctor.”

“If you give a discharge without conviction . . . the effect that has is that [Florence] can go to the medical profession and they say ‘do you have any convictions?’ and she can rightly stand up and say ‘no I don’t’.”

It’s all a lie.

And to be fair, she is going to be an alcoholic doctor with a drink driving conviction.  Wendy Louise McDonald Florence may not “have to” disclose it, but when she comes to the.

Is there anything else that you know of that may be relevant to your application / request to become a doctor

She’s going to have to lie.

Of course, Google won’t let Wendy Louise McDonald Florence off.

At least she didn’t get name suppression.





THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Lindian

    Well, she’s not a “sober alcoholic” now, is she? If it was you, I or “Joe Bloggs”, you can guarantee we’d have the book thrown at us. These Judges make me sick – they need to get off the bench and go back to school to learn the law, and the difference between right and wrong. Munters!!

  • peterwn

    Interestingly, S66 of Land Transport Act said that names of drink drivers could not be suppressed but that was repealed a couple of years ago. Perhaps the defence lawyer or judge did not realise this. I wonder what was behind this repeal.
    Anyway it it time that the ‘discharge without conviction’ provision is closely looked at.

  • Mad Captain

    Yes so much for all being equal under the law. Seems the celebs and ‘community pillars’ are holding all the get out of jail free cards…

  • Hard1

    “Judge Peter Butler said he believed the consequences of a conviction for Florence would outweigh the gravity of her offending.”
    This is good news for all drink-drivers. Over the years the message has been rammed home that driving over the limit is one of the most serious of driving offences, but this new interpretation means that the penalty has always been too severe, especially for sporty types and alcoholic doctors.

    • Michael_l_c

      What does she have to do to get a conviction. Obviously doctors have a get out of jail free card even for 4 times over the limit.

      Now doctors, sportsmen, lawyers, famous people, rich people and ocassionally police officers but it doesn’t do police officers much good as they are dealt with.

    • Damon Mudgway

      I believe the Crown may consider appealing this poor decision, as it would set some pretty scary precedent in case law if it were to remain.

      • Hard1

        “Judge Peter Butler said.. “It was to her favour that no other road users were involved.””

        Classic. This now applies to every drunk driver stopped at a checkpoint.
        If the Crown fails to appeal we are in trouble.

  • Rick H

    326mg – – -that is HUGE.

    To get that high, she would have had to drink 4 or more bottles of wine in a reasonably short time.

    She would have been almost paralyticly drunk.

    • Michael_l_c

      I would be crawling & vomiting. Don’t know how they do it. Must practice hard.

      • Rick H

        Certainly not somebody who has not “had a drink” for 10 years.

  • Good to see that WO is being a responsible citizen and helping the medical regulatory agencies keep track of their members legal issues.

  • Bart67

    I am in the services, and I am under no illusion, if I get done for drink-driving, I will lose my job. So I don’t drink and drive, because it will cost me too much. It’s that simple, so I wonder why a doctor didn’t get that!

  • chris73

    Sorry but I’m going to vent my spleen here. I was considering becoming a cop (a couple of years after I had the left the army) but when I applied I found out the drink-driving conviction I had precluded me from joining.

    It really bugs me that I can’t became a cop because of that (probably should have applied for discharge without conviction but I’ve always believed that if you do the crime you do the time) but what really gets me mad is cases like this or cases where cops (and others) get done but are let off.

    One rule for all should mean just that.

    • I.M Bach

      I’ll guess that you are a white, hard working, middle class heterosexual, which will, of course, result in you not getting a fair hearing, let alone justice. Please excuse my cynicism; it has come about from years of observation. Perhaps if you’d been a (coloured) sports star things might have been different?

      Edit; spelling.

      • chris73

        I’d hate to think thats the case but…

      • MaryLou

        Being famous seems to preclude you from the responsibilities of a lot of crimes.

    • Michael_l_c

      Chris, sorry but u are wrong.
      To join the police you have to declare any court appearances including discharge w/o conviction. You will not get in with a d w/o c. The police also check on you on their intelligence systems.
      Yes a couple of police officers have recv’d, D w/o c but I believe all have resigned. Basically if a police officer get done for drink driving, 400/80 you are gone.
      What I think is unfair is that if you are done for drink driving the police have decided you can’t be rehabilitated & join no matter how good you are. People do make mistakes & come right.
      Oh just remembered the cop at Mokau, 10yr ago. Exeptional & he just kept his job.
      Wanting to travel is not valid for a d w/o c as for most countries, incl USA, you have to declare, arrests, court appearances etc not just convictions.

  • Teletubby

    It deeply concerns me that the court is aiding a very obviously not sober alcoholic to hide her drinking from the Medical Council. One would hope that, unlike the MSM, the Medical Council can use Google.

  • Sailor Sam

    Huge double standards her, the judge needs to be removed from the benchnow.
    Justice Minister, do so immediately.
    Oh, we have a legal system, not a justice system,thus the Minister of Justice is not in charge.

  • johnnyB

    Mrs Florence and the Judge should consider that someone who makes such a poor decision to get in a car and drive after drinking this amount of Alcohol may be better off not pursuing a medical career where good judgment is paramount. The Police should appeal this with vigour especially after the success of overturning the Paki discharge without conviction two Judges surely would not come to the same unjust decision.

  • thehawkreturns

    Total disgrace.
    Judge is barmy.