Early-morning checks catch Auckland drivers on the hop

By Elizabeth Binning

Police involved in an Auckland drink-driving operation have been accused of being "unfair" for stopping drunk motorists in the early hours of the morning.

A weekend anti-drink-drive campaign has netted 86 drunk drivers, many of whom were heading home after spending Friday and Saturday night drinking in inner clubs, bars and casinos.

The Auckland City road policing manager, Inspector Heather Wells, said checkpoints were set up around the inner city to catch motorists before they headed home.

But Ms Wells said not everyone was happy about the early morning invasion, with one man accusing the police of being unfair for breath-testing his friend.

"He said 'I think this quite unfair, it's six o'clock in the morning'.

"I said 'anytime, anywhere, any weather', because it was quite wet on Saturday morning."

Ms Wells said the man had gone into town with his friend and spent the entire night drinking, eating and gambling before getting in the car to head home at 6am on Saturday.

"That's the logic of some people. They think it will be safe, that we [the police] won't be there at that time so they take that risk."

Ms Wells said more than 8700 people were breath-tested, 86 of whom had excess breath alcohol.

They are due to appear in court throughout the week.

A further 21 elected to have blood tests taken which will determine whether they too will face charges.

Operation "Safer Roads" was run from 3am on Saturday and Sunday - a time deemed high risk due to fatigued drivers heading home.

Sixteen of the drivers who tested positive for excess breath alcohol were aged under 20.

A further 11 people were arrested for offences including driving whilst disqualified, supplying false information, wanted on warrants, theft, disorderly behaviour and breach of bail.

Ms Wells said fewer people were caught drink-driving than in previous operations but it was still a worry people were not getting the message.

"Police are very disappointed ... There are options readily available so people don't have to drink and drive.

"The price of a taxi, dial-a-driver, or having a sober driver are all a lot cheaper than being prosecuted for drink-driving, and a lot easier to live with than killing or injuring someone."

Similar operations will continue in Auckland throughout the year.

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