Top Northland cop slams spate of drunk and speeding drivers

By Kristin Edge -
Inspector Wayne Ewers, Northland road policing manager has highlighted unacceptable behaviour on Northland's roads in the past week, including one motorist doing 200km/h. Photo / Tania Whyte
Inspector Wayne Ewers, Northland road policing manager has highlighted unacceptable behaviour on Northland's roads in the past week, including one motorist doing 200km/h. Photo / Tania Whyte

A driver with more than six times the legal alcohol limit and another who reached speeds of up to 200km/h were two examples of appalling driver behaviour putting other road users at risk, Northland's top traffic cop says.

Inspector Wayne Ewers, Northland road policing manager, said a wrap of the last seven days on the region's roads highlighted some unacceptable behaviour, from drunk drivers to speeding drivers and those failing to wear seatbelts.

However, police did praise those who attended the festival at Mangonui over the weekend where officers at checkpoints found no one driving with an excess breath alcohol level, with those spoken to saying they had arranged alternative transport or sober drivers.

That was not the case in Kamo where members of the public complained about the driving by a 41-year-old female, who was stopped on Kamo Rd. A breath test revealed an alcohol level of 1583 micrograms, more than six times over the legal limit for drivers 20 years and over of 250mcg.

An off-duty officer was in the right place when he witnessed a 41-year-old Hikurangi driver who failed to take a corner on Station Rd, Kamo, crash into a fence then roll backwards several metres into another fence before driving off. The driver was stopped and recorded a reading of 1071mcg.

"If you have anything to drink then the message is don't drive, plan your events before engaging with alcohol or have a back-up plan," Mr Ewers said.

"Look out for your mates and if they still refuse to listen, then call the police as personally I would rather have a friend banned from driving than a dead or injured friend."

Police have abandoned two pursuits over the last seven days due to safety concerns. Mr Ewers said the first vehicle was clocked at 161km/h by an officer on State Highway 14, and then 174km/h a short time later. The pursuit was abandoned by officers when speeds by the fleeing vehicle were estimated to be 200km/h. The other pursuit occurred on State Highway 1, near Okaihau when a vehicle was clocked at 137km/h. The officer abandoned the pursuit after the driving behaviour became dangerous to other road users.

"Unfortunately there are a small number of road users that put all others at risk by their behaviour, if you are requested to stop then do so," Mr Ewers said.

Police were also involved in a pursuit around a Kamo street after a man was stopped, but allegedly drove off as the officer approached his vehicle. A seven-minute pursuit ended when the fleeing vehicle stopped in a private driveway and the driver and his passenger ran off. A police dog made quick work of finding the driver hiding up a tree.

An operation focusing on seatbelt compliance in Kaeo, Doubtless Bay, Coopers Beach, Taipa, Karikari Peninsula, Awanui, Kaitaia, Ahipara and Kaikohe resulted in 182 fines being issued. Over the five-day operation overall police issued nearly 700 infringement notices between the Whangarei and Kerikeri/Kaikohe and four people were also summoned to appear in Court for traffic-related offences.

The result did not surprise Mr Ewers.

"Nationally it is an issue and it is an issue in Northland. During 2015 we had a number of accidents that if people had been wearing their seatbelts would be alive today."

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