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Sportswoman's let-off sends wrong message - SADD

Published: 9:36AM Tuesday February 05, 2013 Source: ONE News

The discharge of a drink-driving sportswoman without conviction sends the wrong message to young New Zealanders, a youth organisation says.

The woman, who has name suppression, was twice the legal alcohol limit when she was stopped by police in Gisborne but avoided a conviction after successfully claiming her sports career would be damaged by a criminal record.

"We're really disappointed with the outcome of this case," Anna Braidwood from Students Against Driving Drunk told TV ONE's Breakfast.

"We do think inadvertently its sending the wrong message out, particularly to our young people."

Braidwood said drink-driving is a serious problem in New Zealand, claiming 140 lives a year and costing $900 million.

"We've made some really good positive steps in the past few years, reducing the blood and breath alcohol level to zero for young people has certainly helped to clear up the messages around drink driving," she said.

"We worked so hard to make sure people understand the consequences of driving drunk and this case is blurring that because in a sense this sportswoman has been excused, and that's the wrong message."

Police said the woman is not well known nationally and does not play a mainstream sport. She argued a conviction would put her sporting future overseas at risk.

Police are seeking advice from Crown Law over whether to lodge an appeal against the judge's decision.

Braidwood said that most people she had spoken to disagreed with the decision to let the sportswoman off.