16 April 2024

AFP Commander Danielle Woodward crashed car into tree before returning BAC of 0.148

| Albert McKnight
woman walking to court

AFP Commander Danielle Woodward approaches the courthouse for her sentencing on Monday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A highly regarded commander of the Australian Federal Police and former Olympic athlete has avoided being handed a conviction for her drink driving charge, but has lost her licence for six months.

On the evening of 17 November 2023, Danielle Anne Woodward went to a work event that doubled as a Christmas Party and a farewell for a colleague, and she began drinking champagne.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker told the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (15 April) that she hadn’t intended to drive home but became unwell and decided to leave.

It was only a 1.5 km drive back to where she was staying, but Ms Woodward crashed her car into a tree on New South Wales Crescent in Barton before returning a BAC reading of 0.148 when she was tested. Her right to drive was immediately suspended for 90 days.

The traffic was light and no one else was impacted by the crash, although Ms Woodward was left with an airbag injury to her wrist and the front of her car was significantly damaged.

The 59-year-old pleaded guilty to a charge of driving with a level 3 PCA before coming for sentencing on Monday (15 April). Her lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith of Kamy Saeedi Law, asked for her to be granted a non-conviction order.

He said she had worked in policing for 37 years before becoming a commander in 2022. During her professional and sporting careers, she received over 20 awards, including the Australian Police Force Medal and an Order of Australia.

She also had no criminal history and had never drunk and driven before.

AFP Commander Danielle Woodward was represented by Michael Kukulies-Smith at her sentencing. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Her lawyer said she had planned on getting an Uber home or walking back that night and she had only taken her car as she used it to bring flowers for her colleague who was leaving.

He said she had called her supervisor straight away to report the accident as well as to say she had drunk alcohol that night. Mr Kukulies-Smith said she didn’t try to use her rank and station to get out of the situation.

The lawyer also said she had been immediately stood down from her job and then left the AFP in March 2024, partly due to this incident.

Prosecutor Samuel Carmichael opposed a non-conviction, saying this was a highly serious form of this type of offending.

The fact there was extensive damage to the front of her car suggested it was not “a bump into a tree”, adding that this type of offending could result in other people being injured.

Chief Magistrate Walker said while the BAC of 0.148 was a “spectacularly high level over the legal limit”, she thought this incident was due to the significant ill health Ms Woodward was experiencing at the time.

This was the extenuating circumstance she relied on to grant a non-conviction order. However, she did impose an ancillary order, disqualifying her from driving for six months starting Monday.

Original Article published by Albert McKnight on Riotact.

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.