A KOTARA man who was found asleep in his car after crashing at Merewether while more than six times over the legal blood alcohol limit has narrowly avoided a jail term in Newcastle Local Court.
Criminal defence lawyer James Janke outlined for Magistrate Sharron Crews on Thursday the tragic circumstances that led to accountant Michael Douglas McKie, 58, getting behind the wheel on February 20.
Mr Janke said McKie had lost his wife to breast cancer, been forced to resign to raise his children and had struggled with alcoholism and depression.
It was about 9.30pm when McKie got behind the wheel of his car and crashed into a boundary wall at the intersection of Coane Street and Watkins Street.
He was spotted driving erratically before parking on Frederick Street near the Beaches Hotel.
At 10pm, police found him parked half up the gutter, asleep in the driver's seat with his seatbelt on. The key was in the ignition and the headlights were on.
He later recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.324, more than six times the legal blood alcohol limit. It was his second drink driving offences in the past three years, the court heard.
Mr Janke submitted that he could be spared a jail term and instead be sentenced to an intensive corrections order and Ms Crews agreed.
"They say people have to hit rock bottom before they recognise the extent of an alcohol issue and this offence represents rock bottom," Ms Crews told McKie.