New booze buses to test drugged drivers

Police will now be able to test drivers for drugs as well as alcohol with two state-of-the-art $236,000 "booze buses" delivered to them today.

The Australian-built buses are expected to be in operation on Auckland streets over the coming week and will supplement the existing fleet.

They feature a new livery funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) as part of its on-going campaign to reduce the amount of injury caused by drunk drivers.

ACC injury prevention programme manager Phil Wright said alcohol-related crashes were costing New Zealanders about $50 million a year.

"People are getting hurt needlessly and it's costing them and the country dearly," he said.

"By supporting police and the booze buses, we're working to reduce the number of people hurt by drunk drivers."

The new vehicles are larger and provide more room for staff than the 19 booze buses already operating around the country.

Superintendent Paula Rose, national manager for road policing, said they would be an important element in the range of police deterrents against drink driving.

For the first time in New Zealand, police would also be able to use a booze bus to test and process drugged drivers, she said.

"We have been using booze buses in our fight against drink driving for a number of years," she said.

"But the new vehicles take this to a whole new level."

- NZPA

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