James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Police to get tough on problem of rural drink-drivers

The road toll for the Waikato region stands at 21, compared with 31 people killed at the same time last year. Photo / File
The road toll for the Waikato region stands at 21, compared with 31 people killed at the same time last year. Photo / File

A woman caught driving while three times over the legal breath-alcohol limit before lunch time and another busted while driving under the influence from Tokoroa to Auckland are among a number of rural drink-drivers causing police headaches.

Waikato road policing manager Leo Tooman said it was "seriously concerning" that drink-driving attitudes for some were not changing and he warned drinkers in rural locations and smaller communities that police would be taking a hard line after a number of arrests during the past weekend.

Among those arrested was a 34-year-old woman who is facing her fifth excessive breath-alcohol charge after being stopped by police at Te Poi at 11.40am on Sunday.

The woman returned a breath-alcohol reading of 1240 micrograms per litre of breath - more than three times the legal limit.

"Usually people are coming down from the night before at that time of day but this one wasn't, it was a bit exceptional," said Mr Tooman. "But that's just one case. The night before six drivers were processed for excess breath-alcohol in Coromandel, including one man who blew 992mcg and had just left a hotel and now faces his seventh excess breath-alcohol charge."

Mr Tooman said five drivers were processed for excess breath-alcohol in Matamata while a passenger was also arrested for disorder on Friday.

Included in those was a woman who had been drinking in Tokoroa and was on her way to Auckland when she was stopped by police and blew 598mcg.

"Each of these drivers now knows they face the risk of encountering police anywhere and at anytime but our officers can't be everywhere," said Mr Tooman.

"Each driver processed was a case of a tragedy being avoided. What we need is for these people's friends and relatives to step up and tell them it's not okay to drink and drive."

The road toll for the Waikato region stands at 21, compared with 31 people killed at the same time last year.

Alcohol, drugs or both were considered contributing factors last year in the deaths of 22 people in 18 road crashes on Waikato roads.

Mr Tooman said drink-driving was not confined to one strata or age group. "It's across all spectrums, really."

- NZ Herald

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