A drink-driving incident after Coleambally’s Debutante Ball has been described as one of the worst a senior cop has ever heard of.
Acting Inspector Michael Shepherd from Griffith Local Area Command said at 2.30am on Sunday, police saw a white Ford station wagon speed out of an oval at the corner of Pine Drive and Kookaburra Avenue.
The car veered straight onto the wrong side of the road and started swerving about. Police turned on their lights and sirens and pulled the car over. Inside the car were four people under the age of 18.
“The officer could smell liquor and asked the 17-year-old driver if he had been drinking,” Acting Inspector Shepherd said.
“It took several seconds for him to respond.”
The police officer asked him to turn off the car and hand over his license. The driver fumbled in his pants and then handed over a hip flask.
“It took him a moment to realise what he’d done,” Acting Inspector Shepherd said.
The young man was asked to get out of the car and he staggered as he did. He was breath-tested and returned a high-range 0.155 reading.
“The driver was taken to Darlington Point Police Station and returned a reading of 0.151,” Acting Inspector Shepherd said.
“His P1 provisional license was suspended on the spot, he was charged with high-range drink driving and issued a court attendance notice to appear in Griffith Local Court on July 27.”
Acting Inspector Shepherd said it was “alarming” to find a drunken 17-year-old behind the wheel of a car, but even moreso that there were three underage passengers with him.
“This is one of the worst circumstances I’ve heard of in my 11-and-a-half years on the job,” Acting Inspector Shepherd said.
“If police hadn’t stopped this driver there’s no doubt we’d have had fatalities on our hands.
“This could have been catastrophic.”
Acting Inspector Shepherd praised the police officers involved and said he was convinced they had saved four young lives.
“It was towards the end of their shift and they could have easily been back at the station doing paperwork,” he said.
“However, they knew this event was on and decided to do a patrol.
“As a result they’ve prevented a potentially tragic end to the night.”