A driver who recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.303 almost four hours after crashing near Skipton was warned by the magistrate her conduct could have had tragic consequences.
Arindel Searby, of Linton, was convicted and received an adjourned undertaking after pleading guilty to driving under the influence at the Ballarat Magistrates' Court on Monday.
The court was told Searby had been drinking before she began work in Skipton, then began driving home after she finished about 7.45pm in August 2019.
Not long afterwards, her car left the road and hit a culvert.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Jack Fletcher said tyre marks showed she did not slow down and continued straight ahead.
Searby was taken to hospital, and following a preliminary breath test, a blood sample was taken about midnight.
The analysis revealed a reading of 0.303.
Senior Constable Fletcher said an expert pointed out the reading at the time of the accident could have been as high as 0.380.
Searby suffered two broken ribs, a bump on the head, and two black eyes from the accident - she said in the police interview it was a "terrible mistake".
Her defence lawyer said Searby had no prior convictions, and had taken the incident as a wake-up call to stop drinking.
She said Searby has attended counselling and had the support of her family, and had changed jobs to avoid stressors.
"She's done everything possible," her lawyer said.
Magistrate Ron Saines agreed an adjourned undertaking was an appropriate sentence given Searby's lack of priors, but cautioned the accident could have been much worse.
"You pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, and that's different to "ordinary" drink driving - the first occasion is punishable by imprisonment," he said.
"No matter how lucky you are, getting (through) months alcohol-free without losing your marriage, your family, your liberty or your health, no matter how lucky you are, it could easily have been much worse."
Searby's lack of priors and early guilty plea, as well as her effort to seek out counselling counted in her favour, but Mr Saines said "innocent people" could have been at risk.
"With such a gross level of intoxication, and the criminal decision to drive in that state - if you relapse and repeat this conduct, a sentence of imprisonment will surely follow," he said.
He ordered Searby pay $1000 to the court fund, attend road trauma awareness seminars, and continue her counselling and treatment.
Her licence was cancelled and she was disqualified from driving for two years.
"It's sad enough that people can lapse into alcohol abuse like this, but sadder that they can kill or injure others in this state," he said.
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