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Impaired drivers not getting the message

Impaired drivers not getting the message

Posted June 06, 2021
Emergency Services

Media Release: NZ Police

Motorists in some areas of the country are not getting the message that if you drink and drive, Police will catch you.

Several major operations in the North Island in the last few weeks have seen unfortunate numbers of drivers choosing to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

One in every 145 drivers stopped at a roadside police checkpoint in Hamilton City during an impaired driving blitz last weekend was over the legal driving limit.

Of the 10,331 roadside breath tests undertaken across both nights, 302 drivers had alcohol in their system.

A total of 71 people were processed for excess breath alcohol (over 250mgs per litre of breath) – one in every 145 drivers.

One of the biggest disappointments was the actions of a 40-year-old man who was processed for excess breath alcohol twice in one night.

In the Bay of Plenty on the weekends of May 7 to 8 and May 14 and 15 found 180 impaired drivers.

Across the two weekends, 180 people were processed for impairment-related driving offences; 94 on the first weekend and 86 the weekend after.

Between May 14 and 15 one in every 83 vehicles stopped had an impaired driver behind the wheel, while on the weekend of May 7 and 8 it was one in every 75 vehicles.

Further north in Northland, Road Policing staff have focussed their work on breath testing during the past months.

Typical results have seen an average of about 30 drink drivers prosecuted every week.

Many of these are from remote rural communities, and are travelling long distances on open roads with 100km/h speed limits. That means that smallest of mistakes made by an impaired driver can have devastating results.

In Auckland City 2921 drivers were tested in May and of those a total of 102 drivers were processed following the results of their initial breath screening test. Sixteen failed the Evidential Breath Tests, with three processed for blood.

At the bottom of the North Island, Wellington has seen some comparatively positive results.

Over the past two weeks, more than 4,595 people were breath tested at checkpoints.

On the first weekend of the impairment operation 110 people failed the initial breath screening test ,and 16 blew over the limit and were processed for impairment-related driving offences.

Checkpoints held the following week across Kāpiti-Mana yielded similar results. Over 1000 drivers were tested, 21 blew under 250mcg and six were headed to court for drink driving related offences.

Further south in Canterbury 8003 tests were carried out on the region’s drivers in May, of which 48 people blew excess breath alcohol levels.

In April 4881 tests were carried out and 18 were charged with excess breath alcohol.

And in the Southland area Police charged 35 people in March with Excess Breath Alcohol and 30 in April.

While the results in some areas are more favourable, the ideal result for NZ Police is zero, National Road Policing Centre Director Superintendent Stephen Greally says.

“In an ideal world we would catch no one driving with alcohol or drugs in their system.”

“Our advice is always the same. If you’re drinking, don’t drive.”

“Organise a way to get home before you go out drinking, and if you can remove the option of driving home entirely by taking public transport, a taxi or getting a lift at the start of the night so you don’t have any other option but to do the same at the end of the night.”

Superintendent Greally warns drivers that Police will be out in force this long weekend with checkpoints all over the country.

“Impaired drivers are more likely to cause crashes. That’s just a fact. And with large numbers of New Zealanders on the roads this weekend we all need to be switched-on and alert.”