Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Car-jam devices for bad drink-drivers

The 'interlock' devices are part of a clampdown on repeat drink-drivers. Photo / Thinkstock
The 'interlock' devices are part of a clampdown on repeat drink-drivers. Photo / Thinkstock

Some repeat drink-drivers will be given the choice of paying for devices that stop their cars being driven if they have been drinking.

For about $150 a month, the drivers will be able to have the "interlock" installed in return for a shorter period of disqualification.

The ability for courts to allow repeat drink-drivers to apply for the devices - which prevent a car starting if there is alcohol on the driver's breath - will begin on September 10.

A further measure of special "zero-alcohol" licences will also begin on that date, which requires drivers to be completely sober for three years.

The moves are part of a clampdown on repeat drink-drivers. The country's 60 worst have more than 750 convictions between them, figures released under the Official Information Act show.

Innocent road users have been victims of drink-drivers. Whittney Robertson, 23, of Rotorua died instantly when disqualified repeat drink-driver Royland Alexander McCann, 35, smashed his 4WD head-on into the car in which she was a passenger in 2009.

And in 2010 south of Kerikeri, Warren Jenkins crashed into a car driven by mother-of-one Katherine "Rin" Kennedy, fatally injuring her. Jenkins had 17 previous drink-driving convictions.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the figures showed there was still a serious problem with "reckless" drink-drivers.

The new measures would give the courts more ability to address the problem, adding to previous moves such as higher penalties and a zero-alcohol limit for drivers aged under 20.

Mr Bridges said repeat drink-drivers would still face three months' disqualification before they could use the interlock devices.

These would be installed for 12 months at least and drivers would have to have sober readings for at least the last six months to get back onto normal licence conditions, or three months if they did an alcohol treatment course.

The devices would allow for trace alcohol - such as in mouthwash, perfume or cologne - but would effectively have a zero limit.

Data released to the Herald by the Ministry of Justice shows the worst repeat drink-driver is a 50-year-old man from the eastern North Island. He has 19 convictions dating back to 1983, including three on the same day in 2009.

Acting national road policing manager Inspector Peter McKennie said: "The social, physical, emotional and financial impact of drink-driving injuries and fatalities on families and communities is significant, deep and lasting."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 19 Apr 2014 10:51:30 Processing Time: 748ms