17 Feb 2016

Truck driver avoids prison for drunk driving

6:30 pm on 17 February 2016

A man whose drunk driving left three others with serious injuries, in what a Judge described as a 'spectacular fall from grace' has escaped a jail term.

Pavel Plotinnov had denied being the driver involved but following a trial in the Wellington District Court last year he was found guilty of several charges, including dangerous driving and causing injury while driving drunk.

He was today sentenced to six months' community detention, along with 12 months' supervision and 250 hours' community work.

The charges related to two crashes Plotinnov was involved in on the same night in July 2014.

While driving on the Old Hutt Road he rear-ended a car, but reversed and drove around it, leaving the scene without checking if anyone had been injured.

Plotinnov then sped on towards the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge, where he lost control of his car, struck a traffic island and became airborne.

His vehicle then hit a four-wheel drive, causing serious injuries to the driver and passengers, including broken bones, a cut to the neck which required 12 stitches and injuries to their legs and teeth.

Plotinnov was taken to hospital, where a blood test revealed he was almost three times over the legal drink-driving blood limit.

His lawyer, Phil Mitchell, said Plotinnov was aware of the damage he had caused to three innocent people and had been taking counselling to address his alcoholism.

He said his client had been assessed as having a low level of reoffending.

Judge Peter Hobbs said while Plotinnov maintained at his trial that he was not the driver, that was probably partly because of concern for his livelihood, as he was a professional truck driver.

He said since the incident Plotinnov had had 33 counselling sessions and had accepted he was an alcoholic.

"One can only hope, as is suggested, that your problem with alcohol has now dawned on you and you need to deal with it and never get behind the wheel again when you've been drinking, let alone to the extent you had on this occasion".

Judge Hobbs said it was best for Plotinnov to stay in the community where he could work and support his family.

Under his community detention sentence, Plotinnov will be under curfew at his home between 7pm and 6am for six months.

Judge Hobbs also disqualified him from driving for two years and ordered him to pay $3000 in reparation to each of his victims.