PRIOR OFFENCES: 70 year-old Bernadette Tanks leaves Ipswich Magistrates Court.
PRIOR OFFENCES: 70 year-old Bernadette Tanks leaves Ipswich Magistrates Court. Ross Irby

Blotto granny's dash cam showed other near misses

DRUNK and zipping in and out of motorway traffic a 70-year-old grandmother eventually came to a stop when she crashed into a car.

Things went from bad to worse moments later, when the woman who was four times the legal alcohol limit accidentally side-swiped a parked car as she attempted to move out of the way.

The misadventures of Bernadette Tanks were captured on her own dash cam, which proved a useful tool for investigating police.

Tanks gave an alcohol reading of 0.210, which added to a history of drink driving offences, Ipswich Magistrates Court heard this week.

Magistrate David Shepherd said Tanks put her life and the lives of others at risk.

He said her personal suffering as a result of the deaths of her husband and a godchild was no justification for her actions.

Bernadette Mary Tanks, 70, from Goodna, also known as Bernadette Ford, pleaded guilty in Ipswich Magistrates Court to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle when adversely affected by liquor at Bundamba on March 22.

A charge of driving under the influence was withdrawn when police offered no evidence.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Dave Shelton said police went to a traffic crash at 12.40pm at the intersection of Brisbane Rd and Byrne St.

Snr Const Shelton said Tanks drove about 9km in her extremely drunk state.

He told the court that Tanks told police to check her dash cam footage of her journey; from leaving her Goodna home at 12.01pm and driving toward Ipswich on the Motorway.

Footage revealed that on multiple occasions Tanks had almost caused accidents through her rapid lane changes.

At 12.12pm it showed her driving very close to the car in front as she continued onto Brisbane Road, braking heavily to avoid a potential collision.

A vehicle was stationary in a right-turning lane when Tanks struck it in the rear, the impact sending the car several metres forward.

Snr Const Shelton said Tanks spoke to the other driver then moved her car through the intersection but while attempting to park she side-swiped another car.

At a police interview on April 3 she refused to answer questions.

Tanks' defence lawyer, who later approached the court reporter upstairs and outside another courtroom about the matter but then refused to give her name, referred to Tanks in court as "Miss Ford".

On court records the lawyer identified herself as Amelia Torre from Landmark Lawyers in Goodna.

Ms Torre told the court Tanks was a small business owner and her husband of four years had died on Anzac Day last year. Earlier this year her godson had drowned on Stradbroke Island.

She referred to her previous drink driving offences, saying one happened after she was drinking while ironing clothes then went to pick up her husband from the pub.

She had undergone alcohol counselling after another offence.

Ms Torre said Tanks in 2011, following an argument with her husband, went to Stradbroke Island. After having some drinks to relax, her car was pulled over by police.

In submission on penalty Ms Torre told Magistrate David Shepherd "Miss Ford" takes many medications that might inhibit the processing of alcohol.

"She was shocked and appreciates that it could have been worse," Ms Torre said.

"She has engaged with a psychiatrist and will do grief counselling.

"She has written to the other driver. And is out of her own pocket as the insurance did not cover it.

"She spent time in the police watch-house that day, and has given her car to friends."

Mr Shepherd said the circumstances and Tanks' alcohol reading in the dangerous operation offence were very serious, with her drinking habit "clearly dangerous".

Mr Shepherd said Tanks had the misfortune to suffer loss in her life causing her considerable stress but the potential loss of life to other families through her driving "is no way to deal with the stress you are suffering".

He noted her prior drink driving offences, saying one alcohol reading had been "extraordinarily high".

"What I don't understand is why people don't learn their lesson," he said.

"Last week there were 10 or more people killed on our roads in one week for a variety of factors.

"You are putting your life and other lives at risk by getting behind the wheel of a vehicle having consumed a lot of alcohol."

Mr Shepherd sentenced Tanks to six months jail, immediately suspended for 18 months. Her licence was disqualified for 12 months.



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