Magistrate blasts motorist

A LAUNCESTON magistrate has excoriated a motorist caught driving more than five times over the alcohol limit, while using a phone and with a young person in the car. 

Anthony Fraser Whitehead, 42, pleaded guilty yesterday to driving under the influence of liquor, exceeding the alcohol limit and operating a mobile phone behind the wheel. 

The court heard that Whitehead had been drinking at his work's Christmas party on December 20 before deciding to drive.

As a result a party-goer called police, who then observed Whitehead's car swerving all over the road and into an oncoming lane while using a mobile phone.

Police prosecutor Konrad Plachta said officers discovered Whitehead's partner's 13-year-old child in the car when they pulled it over.

He said Whitehead was surprised at the breathalyser reading of 0.210 because he had only drunk two cans of premixed alcohol. 

He requested a blood test which returned a blood alcohol level of 0.265.

Lawyer Adrian Hall said his client had been a talented statewide footballer.

``(He's) a very successful businessman and a well respected member of our community,''  Mr  Hall said.

The court heard that he was using his phone because somebody at the party had called to inform him that the police had been notified. 

Mr Hall said his client made a miscalculation in deciding to drive.

``Miscalculation would be an understatement,'' magistrate Reg Marron said.

He said it was ``gross incompetence'' and set a poor example for the teenager in the car.

``It's a disgrace -  there's no real way of describing it any other way,'' Mr Marron said. 

He fined the defendant $2000 and disqualified him from driving for 18 months.