A teenage drunk driver whose friend died in a road crash at Glanville in Adelaide has been given a suspended jail sentence and banned from driving for a decade.

Christopher Robert Gordon, 19, pleaded guilty to aggravated charges of causing death and harm by dangerous driving, as well as leaving the scene of an accident.

In February last year, his 18-year-old friend Luke Gill was killed when Gordon crashed his utility into a stobie pole.

Mr Gill was riding in the tray of the utility and was flung to the ground.

He died days later in hospital when his life support was turned off.

Another passenger also was injured in the road crash.

The trio had spent the night drinking at a friend's house and a nearby bar, then caught a taxi back to the friend's house, which was less than a kilometre from where the accident happened.

The two passengers had intended riding their bicycles home but Gordon offered them a lift in his work vehicle.

In sentencing, District Court Judge Gordon Barrett said Mr Gill chose to ride in the tray.

"It is not quite clear why he did that. There was room for all three of you in the utility and there was a seat belt for each of you," he said.

"The police found you sitting on the ground some streets away. You had glazed eyes and slurred speech. You admitted being the driver.

"It is true that you walked away from the scene but I do not find that that was to avoid detection. You were cooperative with police."

Tearful apology

Judge Barrett said Gordon attended his friend's funeral and wrote a card apologising to Mr Gill's parents and expressing his condolences.

He said Gordon also made a tearful apology in court for his actions.

"The death of Luke Gill has had a devastating effect on his family. Their lives ... have been changed forever," the judge said.

"There is no doubt that you are truly sorry for having driven on the night. You have demonstrated your remorse in every way you can. You are determined to live the best life that you can.

"Given the way that you have reacted after the accident, I find it unlikely that you will offend again."

Judge Barrett said deterring people from similar behaviour was important in such cases and Gordon's blood alcohol reading had been more than three times the legal limit.

"However there was no course of erratic driving or excessive speed," he said.

"Although there was only one act of driving, one of your passengers was killed, the other injured. As you well know you should never have been driving."

Judge Barrett took what he described as an unusual step in suspending a prison sentence of three years and four months because of Gordon's youth, lack of prior offending, his being unlikely to reoffend and his genuine remorse.

He imposed a $500 three-year bond and banned Gordon from driving for the minimum period under state legislation, 10 years.

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