Mon. May 23rd, 2022


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Dunedin doctor caught drink-driving at more than four times legal limit

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A Dunedin doctor was caught drink-driving at more than four times the limit, with his ailing mother in tow, a court has heard.

Andrew Lukaszewicz, 34, told the Otago Daily Times he had only two glasses of wine before making the journey from Dunedin to Invercargill on April 11 and was “very surprised” to record a breath-alcohol reading of 1126mcg. The legal limit is 250mcg.

The breast-imaging radiologist — who moved to New Zealand from Canada at the start of last year — put the high reading down to the fact he had recently been diagnosed with liver disease, which meant he could not metabolise alcohol as quickly as someone with healthy organs.

On the evening of April 11, members of the public called police, concerned the driver of a late model Volvo station wagon was moments away from a head-on collision, the Dunedin District Court heard last week.

Lukaszewicz veered into oncoming traffic then swerved back the other way, nearly clipping a parked truck at one point, witnesses reported.

His speed was erratic too, exceeding the 100km/h limit at times.

When police caught up with Lukaszewicz, they quickly witnessed his dangerous conduct.

The driver drifted into the northbound lane, causing vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a smash.

When Lukaszewicz was pulled over near Allanton, he initially claimed he was simply fatigued from his job.

However, police discovered he had not worked that weekend and had slept well the previous night.

The defendant said he was under a lot of personal pressure and was “a functioning alcoholic”.

While Lukaszewicz accepted the former was true, he told the ODT the latter comment had been taken out of context.

He admitted drinking more than recommended in the preceding three months but said: “I do not consider myself an alcoholic by any means, and neither do any of my healthcare providers.”

Lukaszewicz said his stress had increased since his mother’s visit, which had turned into a longer stay because of Covid-19, and been compounded by a mini-stroke she suffered last year.

She had since learnt she needed a hip replacement, which would place more financial strain on him.

Lukaszewicz pleaded guilty to drink-driving and, after abandoning a bid for a discharge without conviction, was sentenced to nine months’ supervision when he appeared in court last week.

Counsel Rachel Stedman said he was “mortified and embarrassed” by the conviction and had abstained from alcohol since the incident.

Lukaszewicz said the Medical Council of New Zealand was aware of the situation

“If I were unable to continue practising medicine in New Zealand, I would feel immensely saddened,” he said.

His absence, he said, would be a “huge loss to patients in the region” given the shortage of specialists in the field.

Community magistrate Simon Heale banned him from driving for 28 days, with alcohol-interlock provisions to follow.

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