"This is the fifth drink driver I've sentenced in an hour"
THERE'S a new magistrate in town, but she's feeling the same frustration with drink drivers as her predecessor in the Lower Clarence.
Yesterday in Maclean Local Court magistrate Karen Stafford revealed her impatience as she dealt with her fifth drinking driving offender before the morning tea break.
"This is the fifth drink driver I've sentenced in an hour," Ms Stafford told the court.
"I don't know what it is about the Yamba area, but everyone seems to be willing to run the gauntlet when they drink and drive.
"I would like everyone who's going to come before me with a drink driving charge to think about this before a Section 10 (conviction without penalty)."
As she she heard from the solicitor representing local businessman Adam George Gordon, who pleaded guilty to a mid-range PCA offence, she noted she had set a high bar for letting off offenders.
"The last Section 10 I gave this morning was for an 80-year-old man, who only going a short distance to his home and who had been driving for 50 years with only a couple of blemishes on his licence," she said.
"I know where your honour has set the bar," replied Mr Gordon's solicitor.
Ms Stafford has inherited a problem that vexed former circuit magistrate Robyn Denes who vented her frustration at drink driving over the years.
In 2013 Ms Denes' frustration boiled over into bitter humour when she noted that "10 drink drivers before 10am had put her over her limit".
"I don't know if it's an attitude on the North Coast to be more relaxed about drinking and driving," she said.
"This is a problem that's becoming endemic. I can't work out why people are willing to risk their jobs and their lives."
The number of drink and drug-affected drivers reached well into double figures yesterday.