A BALLARAT farmer was drunk when he ran his tractor off the road and into a ditch because he couldn't see over a hay bale, a court has heard.
Andrew Rankine, 54, had been doing a friend a favour, slashing their grass at a property near Ballan about 9pm on February 24 this year, when he decided to drive his tractor home after a couple of beers.
Ballarat Magistrates Court heard this morning it was dark and Rankine's tractor was unregistered.
Running off the road and into a wet ditch, Rankine was seen by police about 9.40pm trying to pull his tractor out with the aid of another vehicle, driven by his partner.
The court heard he told police he had been unable to see properly due to a large round hay bale which he was transporting home on the front of his tractor.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Clint Prebble said police at the scene observed Rankine was slurring his words, staggering and unsteady on his feet.
"It was a bit of a disaster"...Magistrate Cynthia Toose
A breath test at the Ballan Police Station revealed a blood alcohol reading of 0.118.
Rankine pleaded guilty to drink driving and using an unregistered vehicle.
A defence lawyer for Rankine said his client was extremely remorseful for his actions, adding the farmer had shown poor judgement when he decided to drive home.
The lawyer tendered a number of references to magistrate Cynthia Toose, demonstrating his strong work ethic, generous nature and reliability.
Ms Toose agreed with the lawyer that Rankine had made a poor decision.
"It was a bit of a disaster," Ms Toose said.
"Unfortunately you made the wrong decision on that night."
Rankine's license was disqualified and cancelled for 36 months.
He was also fined $400.