Police get tough on drink-drivers

By Kristin Edge

Northland drivers were forewarned but it many did not heed police advice and have been nabbed drunk behind the wheel already this festive season.

Last week the region's top traffic cop Inspector Murray Hodson issued a warning police would be conducting high-profile traffic stops and anyone stopped would be breath tested.

He's saddened so many people are choosing to drive drunk.

"It's a disappointing result but we make no apologies for the tough line and we won't be taking our foot off the throttle. People should not be drink-driving during the festive season," Mr Hodson said.

"The message is you will be breath tested and that's it. We don't want carnage on our roads"

During the weekend police patrolling Whangarei and major roads leading into the city didn't have to go far before they came across a drunk driver.

Whangarei police Senior Sergeant Howard Clement said a vehicle was spotted crossing the centre line on State Highway 1 near Hikurangi about 8.25pm on Sunday. The 51-year-old Manurewa driver was a disqualified driver and when breath tested returned a result more than double the legal limit.

He allegedly was driving with a breath alcohol level of 970mcg. The legal limit for drivers 20 and over is 400mcg.

A driver spotted speeding near Otaika on State Highway 1 about 2.25am on Sunday led police on a short chase before stopping. When the 28-year-old was breath tested he allegedly blew 681mcg.

A 15-year-old allegedly stole a car and led police on a chase before narrowly missing a power pole and stopping.

Police were alerted to a car driving up Bank St in Whangarei with no lights on about 2.20am on Saturday. After a short pursuit the teenager was arrested and breath tested - blowing 320mcg. The alcohol limit for drivers under 20 is zero. He was charged with unlawfully taking a motorvehicle, driving with excess breath alcohol level, and dangerous driving.

Police stopping motorists on Springs Flat on Saturday nabbed a 55-year-old man with a breath alcohol level of 821mcg and a Hikurangi man, 42, blew 636mcg.

The region's road toll stands at 16 deaths, more than double last year's seven. Mr Hodson said crashes involving drink-driving played a major part in the road toll. The official holiday period runs from 4pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on January 3.

- Northern Advocate

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