Barrack Heights driver: ‘I’m wasted’

A Barrack Heights woman caught behind the wheel while more than three times over the legal limit has been berated in Port Kembla Local Court for being a ‘‘pathetic’’ example to her children.

Joanne Butler, 44, was disqualified from driving for five years and put on a two-year good behaviour bond after pleading guilty on Wednesday to a high-range drink-driving charge.

After drinking seven beers, Butler says she was forced to flee a dangerous domestic situation when she got behind the wheel in the early hours of May 18.

Her defence lawyer, Silas Morrison, told the court she had planned to park a short distance away and sleep in her car when police stopped her on Shellharbour Road about 12.40am.

As she stepped out of the car she told officers ‘‘I’m wasted’’, a conclusion they also reached upon smelling her breath.

A test back at the station revealed a reading of 0.165, more than three times the legal driving limit.

Mr Morrison said his client realised the seriousness of the offence and the dangers of drink-driving.

He said she was coming out of a difficult relationship at the time and two years had passed since her last offence, although he conceded that had been for mid-range drink-driving.

Magistrate Michael Stoddart asked whether Butler was serious about dealing with her alcohol problem.

‘‘Because she’s setting a pathetic example for her children,’’ he said.