A highly respected Lake Illawarra police officer caught drink-driving after a night out with work colleagues will be back on the road by the end of March after successfully applying to have his licence disqualification period reduced.
Senior Constable Paul Winston was placed on a two-year court bond and banned from driving for nine months in mid-September after pleading guilty to high-range drink driving.
He lodged an appeal against the disqualification period, with Judge Andrew Haesler on Friday agreeing to reduce his time off the road to six months.
He will still be required to install an interlock device in his car when his licence is reinstated, which must remain in the vehicle for two years.
The court heard police stopped Snr Cst Winston’s vehicle just after 2am on September 1 after it was seen swerving in a southbound lane on the Princes Highway near Dapto.
He tested positive for alcohol on a roadside breathalyser and later underwent a breath analysis at Lake Illawarra Police Station, returning a reading of 0.183 – almost four times the legal limit.
Snr Cst Winston told fellow officers he’d drunk six bottles of Corona beer and one can of Canadian Club while attending a colleague’s retirement party at Dapto Leagues Club.
In upholding the appeal, Judge Haesler said Snr Cst Winston’s crime was “a blemish – albeit a potentially tragic one – on an otherwise exceptional career”.
“I wont be churlish on three months,” he said, noting Snr Cst Winston had a stellar history of service to the community both professionally and personally and was already seeking psychological treatment.