Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough
Woman racks up sixth drink-driving conviction
A repeat drink-driver who crashed into a parked vehicle, shunting it into a power pole, has narrowly avoided jail for a second time.
Quantze Swann was heading south on Warwick St in Blenheim when she drove into the rear of an unoccupied car, which shoved it into a power pole, loosening the pole in the ground, about 12.15am on February 27.
Swann was taken to Wairau Hospital in Blenheim where a blood sample showed 280 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 50mg. However, Swann was on a zero-alcohol licence.
She admitted charges of careless driving, drink-driving on a zero alcohol licence, and breaching a zero alcohol licence, and appeared for sentencing at the Blenheim District Court on Monday, supported by a counsellor from Te Piki Oranga.
Her lawyer Josh Smith said his client’s vehicle was ‘‘written off’’ in the crash.
‘‘She also received personal injuries, she smashed her head against the windscreen and had a 4-centimetre laceration to her knee,’’ Smith said. ‘‘She’s lucky it wasn’t more serious and she’s thankful no-one was hurt as a result.’’
Swann had five previous drink-driving convictions, the most recent offence being in 2017.
Every few years ‘‘the wheels seem to fall off the wagon’’ and Swann was caught drink-driving, Smith said. A probation report said Swann was dealing with grief and historic relationship issues.
She was also a full-time caregiver for her 90-year-old mother who had Alzheimer’s. She had attended counselling sessions and was connecting with Supporting Families. She attended a wa¯ hine retreat which she found ‘‘highly beneficial’’.
Smith said imprisonment would disrupt Swann’s rehabilitative supports and leave her mother without a carer. Probation had recommended a sentence of community detention and intensive supervision.
Judge Garry Barkle said Swann was ‘‘very close to going to prison’’ at her last sentencing in 2018, and that was true again this time. Her blood sample showed an ‘‘enormously high level’’, and her previous convictions were also for very high levels.
A pre-sentencing report said she had been drinking at a local hotel before going to a party, before making the ‘‘absolutely silly decision’’ to drive.
‘‘We’re lucky you’re OK and standing in front of us today, because it could have been a lot worse with that sort of level of alcohol in your system,’’ Judge Barkle said. Judge Barkle said he understood caring for her mother was a ‘‘difficult living situation’’ but he was pleased by how much support Swann was engaging with. He sentenced her to 18 months of intensive supervision, and six months of community detention, with a curfew from
9pm to 5am. Swann was indefinitely disqualified from driving. If she was permitted to get her licence back she would need an alcohol interlock device, followed by a zero alcohol licence.
She was also ordered to pay $2348.99 in total reparation, for damage to the power pole and the other vehicle.
‘‘If you come back you’re really going to tie the hands of the court to some extent, as to what sentences can be imposed,’’ Judge Barkle warned.