Liberal MP Tim Smith has been charged with drink driving after an accident with a fence which wrote off his vehicle.
Despite earlier being equivocal about whether he would remain in politics, the former shadow cabinet minister announced that he would in fact quit politics at the next state election.
Mr Smith was breath tested and returned a reading more than two times over the legal blood alcohol limit.
The member for Kew expressed remorse for his actions and labelled himself an "idiot".
Tim Smith Charged with Drink Driving
Tim Smith was charged with drink driving after consuming "a few glasses of wine" at a friend's house.
He claimed to believe he was below the legal limit when he got into the driver's seat. Given his breath-test reading was 0.131, a magistrate may have difficulty accepting this, as the reading is almost into the high range.
The high range drink driving range begins at 0.150.
Smith accepted that he had consumed "far too much" alcohol. Speaking to radio station 3AW, the embattled MP said he "hadn't eaten very much all day, so as a consequence I blew much more than I ever thought that I had consumed".
In his statement released to the public, Mr Smith said the car accident occurred when he was driving down a hill and a driver in front of him hit the brakes.
"I swerved to miss him, clipped him and ended up where I did," he said.
He said he had "apologised profusely" to the owners of the Hawthorn home he struck and had offered to pay all damages.
Mr Smith said police were yet to indicate to him whether further charges would be laid over the incident. Sydney drink driving lawyers have suggested that he may be charged with dangerous driving, given his reading and the accident.
The 38-year-old described himself as an "idiot" and said the crash was "the worst thing that has ever happened" in his life. He went on to vow to never to consume alcohol again while he remained in public life.
"I will never, ever drink again. If I remain in public life I'm never touching a drop ever again," Mr Smith said.
Tim Smith Equivocal About Resignation
Tim Smith resigned from the shadow cabinet after the incident. However, it took him a further week to confirm that he would not contest the next election.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy revealed he had told Mr Smith shortly after he heard of the drink driving charge that he did not want him to run at the next election "for the sake of the people (of his electorate)".
However, Mr Smith reserved his position by initially stating, "I'm still at the point of reflecting on what's happened, what the feedback from local party members is.Their wishes and their views are paramount in my mind and . I've got a couple of days, indeed maybe a week or so of speaking to them."
Indeed, he even suggested that he had support to remain in his role from some party member.
"Some people think that I should leave immediately, others think that I shouldn't contest and, equally, there are others who think that I've made a really stupid, stupid, stupid error, but that 'he who is without sin cast the first stone' and others have made a similar error," he said.
"There a number of different views about whether or not this sort of behaviour should constitute the end of one's career forever."
Accused of Hypocrisy
This was a somewhat curious position for the former shadow cabinet minister to take, given Mr Smith's comments after an alcohol-fuelled incident involving Labor MP Will Fowles.
The Labor politician had kicked in a hotel door in Canberra in 2018. At the time, Mr Smith said Mr Fowles was no longer fit to sit as a member of parliament.
"I said a few things about Will that had I known probably better his mental state of affairs, I probably wouldn't have said them.You've got every right to call me a hypocrite for those comments."
Deputy Premier James Merlino said the "significant" drink-driving incident could have led to a loss of life. Indeed, drink driving is a factor in about 18% of all fatal crashes in NSW.
Loss of Job Due to Drink Driving Charge
Ultimately, Tim Smith resigned due to the drink driving charge. In a statement addressed to Kew constituents, he confirmed he would not be seeking preselection for the state election due to take place in November 2022.
Smith said he was "deeply touched" by encouragement he had received from Liberal Party members, but added it did not "excuse the terrible lapse in judgment" last weekend.
"In view of the response by the Leader of the Opposition, I believe it is in the best interests of the party that I do not contest the next election in Kew.I thank everyone who has supported me in good times and bad. I have let many people down and I apologise again for causing this mess," the former shadow attorney-general said.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy commended Smith for stepping down, stating, "Tim Smith's decision today to not renominate for his seat of Kew is no doubt an exceedingly hard one, but it's an honourable one and one that I support."
Mid Range Drink Driving
Mid range drink driving is defined as driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08 and 0.149.
Under Section 110(4) the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), in order for you to be found guilty of 'Middle range drink driving', the prosecution must prove:
1. You were driving a vehicle;
2. You had a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08 and 0.149.
If you are convicted of a mid range drink driving offence, you will be subject to the mandatory interlock program unless you are granted an exemption. If you are not convicted of this offence, you will not face a disqualification.
Mid range PCA offences are taken very seriously by the Courts. The maximum penalty includes jail time, as well as significant disqualifications.
Despite this there have been a number of recent examples of these charges being dismissed after an accused retains experienced criminal lawyers. Having the best drink driving lawyers will go a long way towards beating these charges.
Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823. Or, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are primarily two defences to drink driving charges that can be employed.
The first defence is known as the '2 hour rule'. This is set out in Clause 2(d), Schedule 3 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).
It explains that a police officer cannot require a person to submit to a test, analysis or assessment, or to provide a sample two hours after they were driving.
This period extends to four hours for a blood sample, urine sample and oral fluid test.
Secondly, there is the defence known as the 'home safe' rule. Clause 2(e), Schedule 3 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) sets out that a police officer cannot require a person to submit to a test, analysis or assessment, or to provide a sample at the person's home.?
Importantly, a person's home incudes any part of their property such as a driveway, front yard and back yard. ?
Often Police are unaware of these clauses and as such an experienced drink driving lawyer will be able to have the charges dismissed. ?
Sometimes, a person will attempt to argue that they were not 'driving' the vehicle. In order for this defence to be successful, you will have to prove that you were not:
(a) in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of a vehicle,
(b) in relation to a trailer, drawing or towing the trailer,
(c) riding a vehicle.
These factors are set out in Section 4 of the Road Transport Act 2013.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.