About time: jailing recidivist drunk drivers

And on the feral West Coast too

A West Coast man has been sentenced to five months’ jail after being convicted of his seventh drink-driving offence.

Martin John Coghlan, 56, of Granity, appeared in Westport District Court yesterday. He had admitted the offence at an earlier appearance.

According to the summary of facts, police pulled Coghlan over on Palmerston Street, after a member of the public noticed him swerving on the Coast Road and called *555. A breath test revealed Coghlan was nearly four times the legal limit, at 1462mcg per litre of breath.

Defending, Marcus Zintl said he accepted the starting point for Coghlan’s sentencing was imprisonment. However, he asked the court to consider Coghlan’s age, and the fact he’d made genuine attempts to address his alcoholism.

Mr Zintl sought a sentence of home detention, community work and indefinite disqualification of Coghlan’s driver’s licence.  

Judge Robert Murfitt said three of Coghlan’s past convictions had similarly high readings. In 1986 he blew 1350mcg, in 1999 he blew 1466mcg, and in 2011 he blew 1417mcg.

“These are extraordinarily high levels.”

Slow learner. I’ve never once been over the limit…let alone driven drunk.

It was pure luck a member of the public wasn’t killed or injured as a result of Coghlan’s driving, he said.

Judge Murfitt acknowledged there was a 12-year gap between Coghlan’s fifth and sixth offences but said it appeared Coghlan was not learning his lesson. Being sentenced to home detention in 2011 obviously didn’t work, he said.

“You’re a serious recidivist drink driver.”

Spending time in a jail cell would help Coghlan realise his need to reform, he said.

He sentenced Coghlan to five months’ imprisonment with the special release condition that he complete treatment for alcohol abuse. He also indefinitely disqualified Coghlan from driving and confiscated his vehicle.

I hope the Judge has sent his sentencing notes to every other judge who presides over recidivist drink drivers.



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