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Drink driver says medicine used to soothe sore throat reason for high alcohol level

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A farmer on a night out with mates has blamed throat medication for boosting the level of alcohol in his system. Photo / 123RF

A farmer on a night out with mates playing darts has blamed medicine used to soothe a sore throat for boosting the level of alcohol in his system.

Warwick John Loader was heading home in his ute late one night in May, when he was stopped by police on a rural Tasman road.

Loader admitted he’d been drinking but was then unable to complete an alcohol breath test.

He claimed the asthma he was suffering prevented him from giving a decent enough puff. He also said he was generally unwell, and was suffering from indigestion and tonsillitis, for which he had taken medicine.

A man stopped by police while driving in Tadmor in rural Tasman blamed throat medication for a high alcohol reading. Photo / OneRoof
A man stopped by police while driving in Tadmor in rural Tasman blamed throat medication for a high alcohol reading. Photo / OneRoof

Subsequent blood analysis showed he had 128 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit for blood alcohol for drivers over 20-years-old is 50 mg per 100 ml of blood.

The 51 year-old now has his third drink-driving conviction, even though his previous offences were 26 and 27 years ago.

Loader, a former fisherman, has previously been before court on unrelated matters, as the owner of the ill-fated fishing vessel Mi Jay which left Port Nelson in December 2005, and was never seen again.

Loader and the firm Crusader Fisheries, of which he was a director, were each found guilty in 2009 of operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk.

There was no link between this and the recent drink-driving offence.

His lawyer Tim Spear provided medical records to the Nelson District Court today, which reflected the police summary.

“He had severe tonsillitis – he was quite ill at the time and because of his sore throat he was not eating or drinking much so was dehydrated.”

Spear told the court that Loader was taking Difflam and Vicks liquid medications, and that they might have been a factor in the alcohol level reading because he didn’t feel he had drunk enough to end up with the result he did.

Different Difflam medicines are shown to contain varying small amounts of alcohol.

He also asked that any driving disqualification not start until Loader had time to pick up silage for feeding to his cattle on his way home from court today.

Judge Jo Rielly noted the offending was against the backdrop of previous drink-drive offences in the mid 1990s – a “significant gap” she felt would be disappointing for Loader who had found himself back in court again.

She said while the reading was at the higher end, the circumstances were that he was unwell, confirmed by medical records.

“The reality is, you probably should not have been drinking at all against a backdrop of illness.

“People who are tired and unwell may well suffer the effects of consuming alcohol more than when not unwell.”

Loader was fined $1000 plus ordered to pay court costs and analyst fees, and disqualified from driving for a year starting from midnight on July 20, to allow him time to attend to the farm commitments.



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