A local church minister felt "great shame and remorse" by returning a mid-range drink-drive reading after rolling his utility several times at Coolangatta in May but "thanks god" nobody else was injured.
David Hedley Millikan, 76, who is the Minister at the Berry Uniting Church, pleaded guilty to mid-range drink driving in Nowra Local Court on Monday, August 3.
Court papers said Reverend Millikan was driving a Toyota Hilux utility north on Coolangatta Road at Coolangatta on May 12 at about 9.11pm when it left the roadway about three kilometres south of Berry and rolled several times.
Police said the reverend had told officers he believed an oncoming vehicle was moving towards his lane and he had attempted to swerve to avoid a collision.
The vehicle left the roadway and rolled a number of times.
The vehicle suffered extensive damage and Rev Millikan was able to free himself from the wreckage before a member of the public arrived and rendered assistance.
Police who were called to the crash noticed he was "unsteady on his feet" and smelt of alcohol.
A breath test returned a positive result but as Rev Millikan had suffered a head injury which was bleeding, officers didn't feel it was prudent to question him or have him undergo a breath analysis at the time.
He was taken to Shoalhaven District Hospital by ambulance with a blood test later revealing a reading of 0.116.
His solicitor Kel Clowry said his client had been visiting an elderly parishioner the day after a funeral where the man buried his life partner and had dropped off some meals and taken a bottle of scotch.
"My client only thought he had had three drinks," Mr Clowry said, "but it appears his pouring might have been a little heavy-handed.
"This incident has had a real effect on him. He has given up alcohol and undertaken counselling and intends to work as an alcohol counsellor.
"As a minister of religion, especially during theses COVID times, he has been in regular contact and made visits with parishioners, particularly elderly members of the congregation.
"He has had to rely on his wife to now drive him to such appointments and she is not always available.
"He realises he is a very lucky man that he wasn't more severely injured and as a man of the cloth he thanked God no one else was injured".
Rev Millikan has completed the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program, from which he had learnt a great deal including the effects and time it takes for alcohol to be removed from the body, the effects of speed and the ability to stop a vehicle.
"I learnt about the dangers of drink driving, the disastrous effects it can have and how a simple, ill-placed decision can impact a community," he said.
In a letter to the court he said the course had been "startlingly realistic and instructive".
"I found the accident most sickening and thank God other cars weren't involved," he said.
Magistrate Gabriel Fleming said a reading of 0.111 was well about the 0.05 allowable reading.
"This is a serious offence," she said "you are lucky to still be with us.
"It is not illegal to have a drink, or drink as much as you want and it is not illegal to drive but when you put the pair together it is a serious offence."
She fined him $1000 and disqualified him from driving for three months and ordered he have an interlock device fitted to his vehicle for 12 months.
Read more: Court/Crime
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