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article imageDrunk-driving Catholic priest reads 'off chart' on breathalyzer

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 23, 2011 in Religion
South Grafton - Catholic priest Father Peter Jones, 58, a priest at St. Patrick's Parish in South Grafton, returned one of the highest blood-alcohol readings ever recorded in New South Wales, Australia. The police stopped Father Jones criss-crossing on the highway.
Father Jones, according to The Telegraph, returned an "off the chart reading" when the police stopped him and administered a breath-test. The Catholic priest returned a "+.5," the highest reading on the breathalyzer the police officer used. The officer then took the priest to a police station where he was tested again. He returned an unbelievable 0.341.
A senior police officer admitted that this was one of the highest blood-alcohol readings he had ever seen.
Father Jones, The Telegraph reports, responded to inquiries on the incident, saying, "Oh look, can we leave this alone — I'll talk to you about it some other time."
Lismore Diocese, however, issued a statement which said Father Jones was,
"...currently on leave receiving medical treatment...Father Jones has been a committed and hard-working Priest of the Lismore Diocese in the Parishes of Nambucca and South Grafton and he and the Catholic community of the Lismore Diocese has a strong commitment to the public and the upholding of laws of the community...This matter is now before the court and Father Jones shall respect the verdict of the court and civil authorities."
A concerned motorist who had been driving behind the priest's white Toyota Camry, before the police stopped him around 1.15 p.m., said the drunken priest had been crossing lanes dangerously.
Herald Sun says the legal limit for drivers in New South Wales is 0.05. A reading of 0.05 is equivalent to about two standards of drinks in the first hour. This means Father Jones' blood-alcohol was at about seven times the legal limit. Paul Dillon, a drug and alcohol educator, expressed his amazement at the reading. Mr. Dillon said:
"I would imagine, the person with a level like that, wouldn't actually expect them to survive...Generally speaking it would be very hard to imagine someone could get to a level about 0.3 with beer, which is between three to five per cent alcohol...You really would be looking at significant amounts of spirits, which are 35 to 50 per cent alcohol — over a period of time."
News.com reports Father Jones, who just had a life-saving triple-heart bypass, was bailed into custody of fellow priest Father Rex Hackett. He will appear at MaClean Local Court on December 13.
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