Whangārei man convicted for 13th drunk driving offence avoids jail

The man was pulled over speeding on One Tree Point Road and found to be intoxicated. Photo / David Fisher

A man who was pulled over driving drunk little over a month from being issued a zero-alcohol driver’s licence has been convicted for his 13th drink driving offence and avoided prison.

Mark Penhall, 61, of Ruakākā has appeared in various courts over the years on excess breath alcohol charges and was issued a zero alcohol licence in February 2021 following a previous conviction.

When he was pulled over speeding on One Tree Point Rd, early April he exhibited signs of intoxication and blew 962 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit for drivers 20 years and over is 250 micrograms per litre of breath.

On a zero alcohol licence, the driver must maintain a zero alcohol limit when driving for three years.


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Appearing before Judge Philip Rzpecky in the Whangārei District Court on Wednesday on one charge of driving with excess breath alcohol for a third or subsequent time and one charge of driving contrary to a zero alcohol licence, it was Penhall’s 13th time up for sentencing on drunk driving.

Police Prosecutor Catherine Anderson pushed for a term of imprisonment saying he had not dealt with underlying issues with any previous sentences designed to help him.

“A 13th excess breath alcohol charge…there comes a time your honour where the seriousness of offending needs to be addressed,” Anderson said.

His lawyer, Victor Heather said Penhall acknowledged alcohol could no longer be a part of his life and has since engaged with the Salvation Army detox programme and Alcoholics Anonymous.


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He also said a recent medical showed a decline in the use of alcohol in his liver indicating “he is taking this seriously.”

Judge Rzpecky said although he needed to protect the community from his irresponsible attitude to drinking, he was prepared to give Penhall another chance.

“Your lawyer today has given a strong submission because, quite frankly, you don’t deserve a chance to remain in the community. Hopefully you are at a point in your life where you can leave this life behind because alcohol cannot be a part of your life anymore,” Rzpecky said.

Penhall was sentenced to seven months home detention and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

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