Drink-driving fine quashed

WHEN Goolmangar woman Tracie Callaghan got behind the wheel of her car in June, less than three hours after having four or five drinks, she thought she would be safe to drive home.

But the 25-year-old single mother of two was stopped by police for a random breath test and found to have a mid-range blood alcohol reading.

As a result, Callaghan lost her driver's licence for six months and was fined $500 in Lismore Local Court in July.

On Tuesday she appealed the penalty in the Lismore District Court.

Callaghan described how she thought she had done the right thing by waiting in the car park of the Goonellabah Tavern, where she had been drinking for almost three hours before driving home.

“I hadn't eaten since 10 o'clock. I was there since 7.20pm and had four or five drinks,” Callaghan said.

“It was about midnight and I wasn't feeling okay, like I was more affected by the alcohol.

“I called a couple of friends. One couldn't come and the other one had had a few drinks.”

After the tavern closed about midnight, Callaghan waited outside in the car park until about 2.45am.

“I did a walk around the car in fresh air and thought I'd be fine,” she said.

Callaghan's solicitor Sophie Anderson, told the court how Callaghan, sole carer of her children aged eight and nine, was having difficulty properly caring for them without her licence.

She said Callaghan had also suffered depression and remorse and lost her job as a result of the incident.

Ms Anderson said these things were punishment enough, and that Callaghan was a 'sensible young woman' willing to undertake further driver education, in the form of a six-week traffic offender's program.

She was also looking to get another job at Tweed Heads.

Judge Black said motorists who had been drinking 'rarely got it right' in terms of how much they had had to drink and when they could legally drive again.

However, he described the impact on Callaghan as 'severe' and 'significant', and quashed the fine and licence suspension.

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