Illawarra mum avoids jail sentence for high-range drink-driving with son, 3, in backseat

An Illawarra mother who got hopelessly drunk at a child’s birthday party then drove erratically with her three-year-old son in the backseat has been sparred a jail sentence.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was discovered slouched over in the driver’s seat of her Nissan X-Trail when intercepted by police at the bottom of Mount Ousley on the evening of June 16.

Officers said she was unable to follow simple instructions and her words were slurred. A breath test revealed she had been driving with more than four times the legal alcohol limit in her system, prompting police to condemn the woman’s actions.

“The accused’s manner of driving whilst affected by alcohol was so poor that it prompted numerous triple-0 phone calls and witnesses to record her actions and follow her,” they wrote in a statement tendered in court.

“The accused has placed herself, her child and other road users in extreme danger.”

Court documents said fellow motorists alerted police to the woman’s dangerous driving on the M1 around 5pm, with one driver so concerned they began filming her.

The driver followed the woman up Mount Ousley, later telling police she had several near-misses with other cars and almost hit a gutter. She then did a U-turn and headed back towards Wollongong, hitting the concrete dividing barrier on the way down the mountain before she was stopped by police near Fairy Meadow.

The child was released into the custody of his father, while the woman was taken to Wollongong Police Station and charged with high-range drink-driving.

When questioned about her alcohol consumption, the woman initially said she didn’t know how much she’d had to drink but then admitted she’d had at least five glasses of champagne at a children’s birthday party earlier that afternoon.

Officers found several unopened bottles of alcohol in the woman’s car when she was arrested.

In sparing the woman a jail sentence, Magistrate Robert Rabbidge accepted submissions from her lawyer that she had no prior record and had ceased drinking alcohol since the incident.

She was placed on a two-year bond and disqualified from driving for six months.