22 Jun 2010

Drink-drive charge dismissed over Bill of Rights breach

8:27 am on 22 June 2010

A Whangarei man has escaped conviction on his 12th drink driving charge because a police phone system he used breached his Bill of Rights.

Stephen Pugh had his charge dismissed on the grounds he was not able to consult properly with his lawyer via the Whangarei police station phone system.

Whangarei lawyer Dave Sayes says he raised concerns about the speaker-style phone system last year, as it is hard to hear what is being said and conversations can be overheard.

Mr Sayes says anyone charged with drink-driving who has used the system could have a defence.

But the police do not believe the district court ruling will not affect other cases already heard.

A spokesperson for Police National Headquarters, Jon Neilson, says police are looking at whether improvements made to the Whangarei phone system are enough to stop further breaches.

He says checks are being carried out in all other districts.