Police and road safety officials were gobsmacked a motorist four times over the legal breath/alcohol limit was on the road in our district during Labour weekend.
Dannevirke's Debbie Webster, the road safety co-ordinator for Horizons Regional Council, the police traffic alcohol group and three students from Dannevirke High School - members of SADD, Students Against Dangerous Driving - attended checkpoints throughout Tararua on the Saturday of Labour weekend.
The team began in Pahiatua, progressed to Woodville and onto Dannevirke, finishing at 12.30am.
"Alarmingly, while in Woodville, Police stopped a driver who had travelled from Whanganui and was heading to Napier. He had a breath alcohol reading of more than 1000 micrograms, four times above the legal limit," Ms Webster said.
The limit is 250mcg and the drunk driver was forbidden to drive and will be appearing in court. "To think he would have continued driving to Napier and placing other road users at risk if he had not been stopped and taken off the road . . . " Ms Webster said.
Drivers who were stopped and breath tested were given information about the new lower drink/drive limit and the danger of being over the limit the next day.
"Drivers can get caught out the next day by still being over the limit particularly if they have an early start at work or having stayed over and then decide to drive home the next day when they could still have alcohol in their system," Ms Webster told the Dannevirke News. "We recommend 12-hours between drinking and driving, particularly if someone has had a big night out as the alcohol can take this long to get out of the system.
"With Christmas festivities approaching, it is a timely reminder to people about planning ahead. If you are going to drink, think about how you are going to get home. Organise a sober driver or an alternative place to stay. If you live out in the country, can you stay with friends in town? Is it worth risking your life and other road users by driving after you have had a few?"
Two standard drinks could now put some people over the limit, Ms Webster said.
"What people don't realise, is that research has shown your driving ability is impaired after consuming any level of alcohol. The message is stay alcohol-free if you are going to be driving.
"However, it was pleasing to see most of the drivers stopped on this occasion were being sensible and driving sober. But there were a number of drivers who were ticketed for offences such as driving on a restricted licence and carrying passengers, driving unregistered vehicles, or a vehicle not having a warrant of fitness."
The three Dannevirke High School students who attended the stops said they had enjoyed the experience and it gave them an insight into the role of police and keeping our roads safe.