Drunken Daptofireman knows better: court

An experienced Dapto firefighter caught driving on a wet night with an alcohol reading more than three times the legal limit should have seen enough road carnage to know better, a Wollongong magistrate said yesterday.David Andrew Watts, 42, pleaded guilty in Wollongong Local Court to driving with a high-range blood alcohol reading of 0.175.”I don’t need to say anything to you about the foolish decisions of people who get behind the wheel and drive after drinking,” magistrate Les Mabbutt told him.”You see the carnage … Driving the car with the reading you had on a dark night on a wet roadway, you were an accident waiting to happen.”Watts had been employed as a firefighter since 1993, his solicitor said, and had received a National Medal for his outstanding service.But he was preoccupied with personal issues at the time of the offence, the court heard.Watts had drunk about four schooners of beer and up to four rum and cokes at the Dapto Hotel over seven and a half hours on April 3, according to facts tendered to the court.He had walked the short distance back to his Osborne St home about 9.45pm.He then climbed into his car at home to move it to the back of his house, before deciding to drive 2km to a friend’s house for a barbecue, the court heard.Police stopped his Holden Commodore station wagon on Marshall St, Dapto, after detecting it travelling at 64km/h in a 50km/h residential zone.Watts had bloodshot eyes and smelled strongly of beer, the police facts said.Since his licence was suspended in April, Watts had been forced to relocate from Dapto to Wollongong fire station, where he could remain employed as a firefighter without driving, the court heard.Mr Mabbutt warned that Watts could have faced up to 18 months’ jail and three years without his licence.”It is a high reading. But you have got 25 years of driving with nothing like this on your record,” Mr Mabbutt said.He disqualified Watts from driving for a year and fined him $1950.
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