A NSW magistrate with nearly three decades of experience has linked poor public transport with high rates of drink driving in Maitland, north-west of Newcastle.
Magistrate John Chicken, who was elevated to the honour of magistrate in October 2009, aired his dismay in Maitland Local Court on Monday in the midst of 19 drink-driving matters, which represented a third of all matters before him that day.
“It is staggering the number of offences that come before court, not all courts, but this Maitland Local Court, in an area so poorly serviced by public transport, and where people choose to drink and drive,” he said.
Mr Chicken made the comments in dealing with Jason Scott Matthews’ drink-driving charge. The 41-year-old was stopped on Raymond Terrace Road in East Maitland on June 23 having some hours before consumed 12 full strength beers and six spirit drinks.
Taking into account prior offences, Mr Chicken said he had no option but to impose a sentence of 200 hours of community service, for not less than 12 months, during which time Matthews was urged to reconsider his behaviour.
Mr Chicken pointed to a lack of train and bus services yesterday in dealing with Mark Chamberlain of Wyoming who was caught driving on a cancelled licence at Abermain.
The 51-year-old had failed to renew his licence, having come off a suspension in September, and was picked up in January by police.
The magistrate said that because of the complete lack of public transport in the area he would impose a 12 month good behaviour bond rather than issue further driving suspensions.
Chamberlain had been disqualified from driving by the same court in February last year.
He said he was unaware of the need to approach Roads and Maritime Services to have his licence reinstated and Mr Chicken accepted that this was an honest mistake.