Farmer skips break to help sick cow
A farmer who drove more than seven hours without a break says he was worried for the welfare of one of his cows.
Alan James McConachie was driving a truck from Temuka, near Timaru, to Picton on the alternate highway on May 3.
He left at 9am and took a 30-minute break at Amberley at 12.30pm, but did not enter any more breaks in his log book before reaching Marlborough.
Police stopped McConachie on State Highway 63 in Wairau Val- ley, about 38 kilometres west of Blenheim, about 8.30pm.
They checked his log book and found he was more than two hours overdue for another 30-minute break, the police summary said.
McConachie told police he had noticed one of his cows was lying down and looked sick.
He decided to skip his break so he could get to Picton as quickly as possible so he could check the cow as the stock came off the trailer.
McConachie admitted a charge of failing to have a legally-required break at the Blenheim District Court on Monday.
His lawyer Kent Arnott said cows lying down in a trailer were at risk of being trampled by other cows. McConachie was unable to get the cow to stand up, and acted out of concerns for the animal’s welfare, Arnott said.
A driver who failed to take sufficient breaks could lose their licence, but Arnott said the judge could accept there were special reasons for the offence and decide not to disqualify McConachie from driving. If McConachie lost his licence he would be unable to work for at least a month while he applied for a limited licence, Arnott said.
Police did not oppose Arnott’s suggestion. McConachie had no previous convictions.
Judge David Ruth said he understood the difficult situation McConachie found himself in, and accepted there were special reasons for the offence. He decided not to disqualify McConachie, but convicted him and fined him $300.