Police push breath tests in daytime

By Mike Barrington

Police will increase daytime breath tests to nab the many motorists still drunk from the night before, warns police Whangarei/Kaipara area commander Inspector Tracy Phillips.

Alcohol and speed were the highest causal factors for Northland road crashes, she told the Whangarei District Council at its monthly meeting.

Several motorists have used the previous night's drinking as mitigation when caught drink-driving the next day and Ms Philips said this was no excuse.

Northland District Health Board health promotion adviser Dave Hookway had earlier said that drinkers needed to be aware that it took at least one hour and sometimes longer for their body to process one standard drink.

Other planned police action in Whangarei would involve cracking down on young offenders, Ms Phillips told councillors.

"Dishonesty offending peaks during lunch time and after school, so we are making a concerted effort to increase the visibility of police in hot locations, including the CBD, at these times."

The next Operation Fire Alarm - a monthly event she has promoted to get police typists, telephonists and other staff hitting the streets with detectives and uniformed officers - would focus on people with outstanding warrants for their arrest.

"We will be co-ordinating with the courts for this.

"We are of course happy for people to make their own way to court at their convenience to sort out their outstanding warrants, rather than waiting for us to find them at a time which may not be quite so convenient for them."

The council heard police had conducted an Operation Fire Alarm on March 28, checking motorists and encouraging safe driving over the risky Easter period. The Regent New World supermarket provided 3000 Easter eggs which police distributed to motorists along with road safety messages and pamphlets. "Northland had no serious crashes or fatals over Easter."

Ms Phillips praised the Fritter Festival at Toll Stadium in Whangarei on March 30 as "an excellent family event showcasing some of the excellent cafes, restaurants and wineries in the area". "Unfortunately, alcohol became an issue near the end of the event and police will work closely with organisers next year to ensure safety is prioritised at the event through better control.

"We set up highly visible breath-testing units as people left the festival and were impressed that people had sober drivers or re-evaluated how they would get home when they saw the checkpoints."

- Northern Advocate

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