Criminal lawyer on charges

AN Ipswich criminal lawyer was caught drink-driving and driving without due care.

Johanna Rose O'Leary faced Ipswich Magistrates Court this week as a defendant to plead guilty to the three traffic charges.

The court heard motorists called police after spotting O'Leary driving her car erratically on the Centenary Highway about 6pm on January 23.

Drivers had to take evasive action and pull over to avoid a collision, and O'Leary was seen speeding up the inside shoulder of the road to overtake.

The 33-year-old was breathalysed at a service station at Springfield and recorded a blood-alcohol level of 0.141.

On December 29 O'Leary was also caught driving while her licence had been suspended by the State Penalties Enforcement Registry for an unpaid fine.

Her lawyer, Bruce Shaw, said O'Leary's husband was responsible for paying her fines and she had believed her licence was still current when she drove.

Mr Shaw said his client had been involved in an argument with her partner earlier on January 23 about him failing to pay her fines, and had drunk some wine before getting behind the wheel.

“She is a legal practitioner and it causes her considerable embarrassment to appear in this court in these circumstances,” Mr Shaw said.

Mr Shaw argued that her licence should not be disqualified for the SPER charge, despite mandatory legislation that offenders must lose their licence for between one and six months.

But Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said she would deal with O'Leary as she would any other defendant.

When Mr Shaw's argument failed, he brought on O'Leary's other two charges – stating she would have been eligible to apply for a drink-driving work licence if her licence had not been disqualified on the SPER offence.

O'Leary, who is a solicitor at O'Leary Law, burst into tears during her court appearance.

She pleaded guilty to driving while SPER-suspended, drink- driving and driving without due care and attention.

O'Leary was fined $1050 and her licence was disqualified for six months.

Ms Sturgess told O'Leary it was clear she was embarrassed to face court as a defendant.

“You of all people, in your position, should know more than anyone the consequences of driving while under the influence,” Ms Sturgess said.

“It was quite obvious to the other road users that you were not capable of properly operating your vehicle.”

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