Auckland lawyer Shane Alan Rohde has been censured by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.
Mr Rohde admitted a charge of having been convicted of offences punishable by imprisonment which reflect on his fitness to practise or tend to bring the legal profession into disrepute.
He had been convicted of driving with excess breath alcohol in May 2014 and again in September 2015, and dangerous driving in September 2015. He was sentenced to supervision and community work for the 2015 offences.
The Tribunal said there was no evidence that Mr Rohde's clients had been put at risk by his offending or the alcohol problem which led to it. It noted that since his offences he had attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and was well supported by a sponsor, his family, his doctor and a number of his colleagues.
The Tribunal considered Mr Rohde's openness with his firm and other colleagues, and the steps he had taken to safeguard his sobriety were a sufficient safety net to conclude that the public, as consumers, did not need to be directly protected from him.
After considering a number of comparable cases and the steps Mr Rohde had taken to deal with a serious addiction to alcohol, the Tribunal decided it was not necessary to suspend him from practising as a lawyer.
It censured him, telling him that for a lawyer with a statutory and ethical obligation to uphold the rule of law, his conduct was appalling and had to be firmly denounced. The Tribunal said Mr Rohde was on notice that a rehabilitative approach was unlikely to be repeated.
As well as a censure, Mr Rohde was also fined $10,000. He was ordered to pay costs of $3,806 to the New Zealand Law Society and to reimburse hearing costs of $1,992.
"It is well recognised that lawyers have to maintain a very high standard of conduct, both when carrying out their profession and also as citizens of New Zealand," New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore says.
"The question is always whether the public need to be directly protected as a result of the lawyer's conduct."