ASKED to produce his driver’s licence, then 17-year-old Izaac Francis McDonnell fumbled with the front pocket of his pants for some time before producing a small hip flask.
That was just one terrifying pointer to how drunk the Urana teenager was when pulled over by police at Coleambally about 2.30am on June 12.
Police first spotted McDonnell, now 18, when he sped out of the Coleambally sports oval in a station wagon and veered onto the wrong side of the road.
The red P-plater, with two mates onboard, swerved all over the road in Kookaburra Avenue until pulled over police.
According to undisputed facts tendered to Wagga Local Court this week, McDonnell took several seconds to process what police were saying after they asked if he had been drinking alcohol.
“Eventually, he slurred that he had been drinking,” the facts said.
McDonnell was “staggering and stumbling” when he got out of the car, and at the Darlington Point police station returned a blood-alcohol reading of .151 – more than three times the legal limit for a fully-licensed driver.
A senior police officer later told The Area News newspaper it was one of the worst cases of drink-driving he had heard of and said if the car had not been stopped ‘we’d have had fatalities on our hands”.
McDonnell, a Year 12 high school student, pleaded guilty to driving with a high-range prescribed concentration of alcohol.
His solicitor, Zac Tankard, told magistrate Erin Kennedy his client’s actions were “dangerous, immature, lacking in sound judgment”, but then added the behaviour was unlikely to be repeated and was the result of making a “huge mistake”.
He said McDonnell had completed the traffic offender’s program, had shown genuine remorse and felt like he had let others down.
The police prosecutor, Sergeant Steve Watterson, submitted the threshold for a custodial sentence had been crossed.
“The reality is, he is incredibly lucky to be standing here today,” Ms Kennedy said.
“This is the very behaviour that has changed legislation over the years, for good reason – to protect young people on the road.”
In ordering McDonnell to perform 200 hours of community service and disqualifying him from driving for nine months, Ms Kennedy urged him to educate other young drivers about the dangers of drink-driving.