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Three months jail for recidivist drink driver

Thursday 10 August 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, National


Three months jail for recidivist drink driver

A recidivist drink driver has been jailed for three months on charges of careless driving causing injury and excess breath alcohol following an incident which left a motorcyclist and their pillion passenger with leg injuries.

Kaeia Ariu, 32, appeared in the High Court at Avarua before Justice Dame Judith Potter on Wednesday.

The court heard it was his eleventh appearance in court, his fourth for drink driving matters.

He had been imprisoned in 2018 for similar offending.

There were questions about reparation as the victim had been given a week of sick leave payment but had taken another week of leave, however, there was no supporting documentation.

Defence lawyer Norman George said it was quite obvious the defendant had a chequered history of largely traffic offending.

George suggested there was a shortage of construction workers in the Cook Islands and recommended the maximum fine of $1000, which would hurt his client’s pocket.

George repeated the maximum fine be imposed and that Ariu be given a limited amount of time to pay it off.

He also supported a probation period of 12 months and some community service.

Justice Potter said Ariu’s reading at the time of the offence on February 11 about 2.40am was 920 micrograms per litre of breath.

The incident involved two motor vehicles, a motorcycle and a car.

Ariu had been drinking at home then went to the Luna Bar.

He failed to stop at the Avarua roundabout and crashed into the motorcycle.

Both people on the motorcycle received leg injuries.

Justice Potter said it was fortunate their injuries were not more serious.    

Ariu had a history of offending, it was his eleventh appearance in court, his fourth for drink driving, Justice Potter said.

While he had previous careless driving convictions, it was his first conviction for careless driving causing injury.

“It is a chequered history, especially in relation to drink driving.”

While George had suggested a significant fine, police had submitted a short term of imprisonment.

“Drink driving is a curse in our community and courts have regularly condemned and warned about this,” Justice Potter said.

It was noted Ariu was convicted of excess blood alcohol in 2010 for a blood alcohol level of 267.7 when the limit was 80.

“He has a serious problem with drinking and much more, drinking and driving.”

The court heard Ariu’s partner had said he had given up drinking and was a good father, and supportive of his children.

He was fined $100 for careless driving causing injury and sentenced to three months jail plus 12 months of probation upon his release from custody.

Justice Potter ordered him not to consume or purchase alcohol, stay away from licenced premises and surrender his passport.

He was ordered to attend any workshop or counselling services as directed and was disqualified from driving for 12 months.