A JOURNALIST who police say drove on the wrong side of the road while drunk has been given a good-behaviour bond and has been disqualified from driving.
Daily Telegraph political editor Samantha Louise Maiden, 43, appeared in Goulburn Local Court on two charges of not obeying the direction of police and driving with mid-range prescribed content of alcohol. She had previously entered guilty pleas to all charges.
Police facts tendered in Goulburn Local Court said on March 20 at 2.10am, police were travelling south on the Goulburn to Crookwell Rd when at Kingsdale, about 5km north west of the town, they saw a Hyundai Sante Fe driven by Maiden travelling ahead in the same direction.
The facts allege that: police saw the Hyundai suddenly swerve left and move back to the right over double marked lines, travelling on the wrong side of the road around a left hand bend.
Police caught up with the car, still travelling in the wrong lane, flashing a left-hand indicator.
Police activated warning lights and their high beam and allege the Hyundai pulled back into the correct lane, illuminating its brake lights briefly, but failed to stop. Police activated a siren, but the car continued on at 80km/h, again swerving and crossing over double lines and back.
Police ceased following the Hyundai about 1km from the town and stationed a highway patrol vehicle in Fitzroy St. The Hyundai passed the highway patrol and police again followed the vehicle.
On entering Fitzroy St’s 50km zone, police estimate the Hyundai was travelling at 80km/h.
The Hyundai moved into the left-hand breakdown lane and, after travelling about 100m, turned right into Lamarra Place, narrowly missing a parked car, and came to a stop in the cul de sac.
Police approached the Hyundai. They removed Maiden and handcuffed her. She submitted to a breath test, which proved positive, was arrested, and taken to Goulburn Police Station.
At 3.12am, she recorded a breath analysis of 0.136g alcohol in 210L of breath. Maiden said she had been drinking champagne from 9pm until 1am, and estimated about five glasses.
Police facts also said that although there was no other traffic on the road at the time, the potential danger to all road users was extremely high.
In court today, Maiden’s solicitor handed up a Google map to show that she had driven 20km on country roads on the night. “Ms Maiden had been attending a function at Mt Wayo,” her solicitor said.
“A pre-arranged shuttle bus had been arranged for the event, but it did not show up.
"Ms Maiden offered her assistance to drive others out to the party. It was a foolish decision to drive back to her hotel in Goulburn afterwards and she is lucky that no-one was injured.
“She has no prior offences and only two speeding fines. She needs her driver’s licence for work. The next day she apologised to the duty officer at Goulburn Police Station.
“She accepts full responsibility for her actions and is remorseful. A pre-sentence report has found that she is unlikely to re-offend. We concede that certain features aggravated the offence including her manner of driving, the distance she drove, that she was on the wrong side of the road . . .“
Police prosecutor Gabrielle Weston said it was an “extremely serious” offence.
“She drove with mid-range prescribed alcohol content for 20km. It was the manner of driving that alerted police. We are asking for a maximum disqualification,” Ms Weston said.
Magistrate Carolyn Huntsman conceded that Ms Maiden was otherwise of good character and had excellent references.
“Very often good people come before the court because of drink-driving. People don't’ think about the dangers involved when they are intoxicated," Ms Huntsman said.
“The facts do not assist you. It is an aggravated feature when the manner of your driving is what draws the police to your attention and there are other issues such as failing to stop.
"However, the police formed a view that it was not a pursuit. You were not well in control of the vehicle and I am sure you have suffered embarrassment and are contrite to be here today.”
Ms Huntsman gave Maiden a 12-month section-nine good-behaviour bond for the mid-range drink-driving charge and disqualified her from driving for seven months. She also fined her two separate amounts of $500 for charges of not obeying the direction of police.
Police began following the Hyundai near Kingsdale Wines. The car was eventually stopped in Lamarra Place.