Man found asleep at wheel after 30 drinks.
Man found asleep at wheel after 30 drinks.

Man found asleep at wheel after 30 drinks at 50th

A MAN who fell asleep at the wheel while retrieving his wallet from his car at his 50th birthday celebrations has pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

Concreter Michael O'Rourke, 50, was charged with drink-driving when he appeared in the Townsville Magistrates Court this week.

Police prosecutor Anita Page said about 3.10am on February 9, 2020, the police were called to a car in South Townsville with a man seen to be intoxicated getting in and out of the vehicle.

She said police conducted a patrol of the area and found the defendant sitting in the driver's seat asleep with the key observed to be in the ignition.

"The defendant was incoherent and was slurring his speech and had extremely bloodshot eyes," Ms Page said.

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She said O'Rourke told police he had consumed 20-30 drinks over five hours that his mates put in front of him.

He confessed he wasn't sure about the alcohol content of each drink. After a police breath analysis, O'Rourke's blood-alcohol level was 0.072.

Magistrate Steven Mosh was surprised at the low reading.

"Despite the characteristics the police said were observed and despite the confessions made by the defendant about how much he had to drink … that is a curious reading given those observations," he said.

Ms Page presented O'Rourke's three page traffic history to the court with offences ranging in date from May 1988 to May 2019.

It was pointed out by the prosecutor that the traffic history mostly consisted of speeding fines with the only drink-driving charge dating back to 1998, when he was caught over the legal limit with a reading of 0.123. Mr Mosch took into account the time in between offences.

"Considering the context on your traffic history, it is somewhat lengthy, there is an older offence of drink-driving that goes back more than 20 years, I won't place any particular weight on it," he said.

Defence lawyer Bill O'Toole told the court his client was surprised he had broken the law.

"It is a funny thing that my client found himself in the situation where he did not realise he was committing an offence by sitting in the car," he said.

"He had been out celebrating his 50th birthday with some work colleagues … as a group, decided they might go to The Ville Casino, when he arrived there he realised he shouldn't be there and ought to go back to his vehicle to retrieve his wallet so he was at the vehicle for a number of hours … at no stage did he endeavour to drive the vehicle."

Mr Mosch took into account O'Rourke's early guilty plea. He was fined $350 and disqualified from holding a driver's licence for six weeks.

Originally published as Man found asleep at wheel after 30 drinks surprised he broke the law


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