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Fined for driving offences a year apart

Monday June 12, 2017 Written by Published in Local

Resina McBirney was convicted and fined $500 when she appeared before Justice of the Peace, Tangi Taoro in the High Court in Avarua on Wednesday, charged with two separate offences, committed a year apart.


The first, dating back to 2015 involved driving with excess blood alcohol and the second, refusing to undergo a breathalyser test.

Represented by defence counsel Wilkie Rasmussen, McBirney pleaded not guilty to the excess blood alcohol charge, but was found guilty.

The court was told McBirney tested with 314mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, almost four times over the blood alcohol level limit of 80.2mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

McBirney then pleaded guilty to a 2016 charge of refusing to undergo a breathalyser test.

Reference was made to an excess blood alcohol case involving a local entertainer which Chief Justice Hugh Williams presided over earlier this year.

Both this case and McBirney’s highlighted issues where police on Rarotonga sometimes did not have breathalysers and the blood alcohol testing system was out of order, or needed calibration in New Zealand.

The court heard that there are only four breathalyser machines on Rarotonga and they require recalibration in New Zealand every five months. The process can take from two weeks to over a month.

It was discovered during the earlier EBA case that all four machines needed recalibration at the same time, leaving the police without any means of conducting breath tests.

This left individuals required to undergo a test with no option but to accompany police to Rarotonga hospital, and pay for a blood test.

Williams and Taoro agreed parliament had been unaware of these problems when passing legislation regarding the use of breathalysers under the Transport Amendment Act 2007. Because of this, a secondary option had been included: the right for police to request a blood specimen.

Taoro said this procedure had been followed on the night McBirney had been tested.

As well as being fined, McBirney was disqualified from driving a motor vehicle for 12 months. She was also ordered to pay $50 court costs for each of the offences.

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