A northern NSW man has been sentenced for drink-driving on the Pacific Highway. Picture: iSTOCK
A northern NSW man has been sentenced for drink-driving on the Pacific Highway. Picture: iSTOCK

‘I don’t know why people keep doing it’

A NORTHERN Rivers magistrate has expressed serious concern about the number of people who come before the court for drink-driving.

Marom Creek man Matthew Charles Bennett, 45, expressed remorse for his behaviour when he faced Mullumbimby Local Court for sentencing on Thursday.

The labourer, who was self-represented, entered a guilty plea to the charge of mid-range drink-driving.

According to court documents, police saw Bennett driving a white Isuzu utility southbound on the Pacific Highway at Sleepy Hollow on the afternoon of August 14.

They stopped the vehicle to speak with Bennett at Yelgun and noted a "slight odour" of alcohol before subjecting him to a breath test.

After a positive roadside test, Bennett returned a reading of 0.081 when he was taken to Brunswick Heads Police Station for a breath analysis.

Bennett told police he had consumed about four stubbies of beer over a 90-minute period.

Before sentencing him, Magistrate Karen Stafford raised concern for the regularity of drink-driving offences.

"It's still an offence I'm seeing every time I sit here, in Ballina or Byron," Ms Stafford said.

"If I sit somewhere else in the state, it's the same thing.

"I don't know why people keep doing it when everyone knows the dangers of it."

Ms Stafford told Bennett drink-drivers were putting themselves and other at risk, while subjecting emergency services to great trauma.

"We're really underestimating, so far, what it does to police, paramedics, all the people that have to respond to these sorts of accidents," she said.

"It affects their mindset as well; it affects what they take home to their families.

"There's got to be recognition of that."

When she told Bennett his offence was "deserving of a conviction", he replied: "I don't disagree, your honour".

He was fined $500, disqualified from driving until November and will require and interlock device for 12 months.


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