Redland Mayor Karen Williams has been sentenced to 80 hours of community service after pleading guilty to drink driving in Cleveland Magistrates Court today.
She was also disqualified from driving for six months but will have no conviction recorded against her name
The Mayor arrived at court this morning to the noisy chants of protestors calling for her resignation. She was charged with high-range drink driving last month after crashing her Council-owned car while more than three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit on 23 June.
The court today heard that Mayor Williams had crossed four lanes of traffic before her vehicle left the road and ploughed into a tree at the T-intersection of Queens and Wellington Streets in Cleveland.
Her blood alcohol concentration at the time of the crash was 0.177 – more than three times the legal limit.
The court was told the Mayor had consumed four glasses of wine prior to making the decision to drive home from Council’s post-Budget celebration.
The Mayor had earlier been unclear on how much alcohol she had consumed, telling media in the days following the crash that she believed she had finished “several” glasses of wine.
In sentencing, Magistrate Deborah Vasta said there would be “a small number of very hurt people who will never forgive” the Mayor for her actions.
“It seems to me that there is a group of people who feel very betrayed by your client’s actions and behaviour and who may perceive your client to be a two-faced politician who has milked their grief for her own political gain,” Magistrate Vasta told the court.
“It seems to me that there is a real desire to see your client punished more than the average drink driver and not just because she is mayor and should be held to a higher standard, because of what some people see as stunning hypocrisy and betrayal.”
Speaking outside court, Ms Williams told local media she would return to her Mayoral duties later this week.
“I know that I will have to work very hard to regain the trust of my community and I’m absolutely committed to doing that. I will never put my family, my friends, my community and my council colleagues in this position again,” she said.
“This was a single lapse of judgement in 18 years of service to my community. I know I have hard work to do and I will regain that trust as I return to work later this week.”
Redland Councillor, Adelia Berridge joined with protesters advocating for Ms Williams’s resignation outside the courthouse.
“They are asking for the Mayor to resign, which is I believe the right thing to do,” she told local media.
“How can we aspire to a civic leader who we are seeing drink driving at a very high range?”
Local MP, Don Brown, who has campaigned for the Mayor to be removed from office, slammed today’s outcome, writing on social media: “4 glasses of wine gets you to 0.177 BAC??? No fine, no conviction and only 6 months suspension of licence and 80 hours community service sends the completely wrong message to the community when it comes to drink driving.”