Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Three times over booze limit with three kids in car

Waikato police are battling a rising number of cases of drink-driving women. Photo / Thinkstock
Waikato police are battling a rising number of cases of drink-driving women. Photo / Thinkstock

A woman caught driving three times over the legal breath-alcohol limit had young children in the car - the latest case in a spate of Waikato women being caught drunk at the wheel.

The 31-year-old was stopped in Hamilton's Tristram St in the early hours of Sunday with three children in the car.

She returned a breath-alcohol reading of 1359mg per litre of breath - more than three times the legal limit of 400mg.

She was one of 19 Waikato drink-drivers caught over the weekend.

"To have such a high breath-alcohol count with three kids in the vehicle, that's frustrating, especially after all of our messages about drink-driving have gone out there," Waikato road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said.

Waikato police breath-test 1500 to 2000 people on an average weekend.

Members of Waikato's regional transport committee were shocked when Mr Tooman raised the case at a meeting this week.

"We were just disgusted and exasperated," committee chairman Norm Barker told the Herald yesterday.

"There was once again frustration that this kind of event was being reported to us."

A charge of having a third or subsequent excess breath-alcohol level was to be laid against the woman today in Hamilton District Court, and her licence has meanwhile been suspended for 28 days.

Waikato police are battling a rising number of cases of drink-driving women.

"It seems that we've got a little bit of a blip at the moment," Mr Tooman said.

"It was unusual a few years ago to apprehend a woman who was alcohol-impaired, now they account for 35 to 45 per cent of apprehensions, which is a bit concerning."

In other cases this year, a 37-year-old female restaurant manager blew 1157mg in Hamilton in March.

In May, a 48-year-old woman found driving on the wrong side of the road in the city had a breath reading of 1000mg.

"Then in July a dog handler pulled over to help a 39-year-old woman whose car appeared to have broken down ... on inspection he found the teacher well under the influence of alcohol and she returned a breath alcohol reading of 1460mg," Mr Tooman said.

While Waikato police had seen a drop in drink-driving cases of about 4 per cent - partly because of a boost in booze bus operations - there was a growing number of repeat drinking drivers.

"Of concern to us is that there appears a culture is developing where people think, 'it's only drink-driving, don't get so upset' and we seem to be developing a hardcore recidivist group of drivers."

A driver clocked at 177km/h in a 100km/h zone at the weekend had shown drivers in the region were also ignoring messages on speeding.

The man, in his twenties, gave police an excuse after being stopped on SH2 near Maramarua on Saturday.

"The man said he had flown up from Invercargill to Auckland to purchase the Subaru and told the officer; 'he just had to see how fast it could go'," Mr Tooman said.

He now faces a charge of driving at a dangerous speed and has been stood down from driving for 28 days.

"This type of driving attitude is disappointing when you consider the Waikato has lost 41 people on our roads this year compared to 35 for the same period in 2010, of those deaths seven were directly related to speed."

It was "particularly concerning" that the driver was speeding on SH2, as that area of road had had 29 fatal crashes since 2001 and was being considered for a speed limit cut to 80km/h.

Of the 41 road deaths in the Waikato region this year, five involve speed and alcohol on the part of the driver, and four involved alcohol alone.

- NZ Herald

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