Judge Greg Davis has adopted a new tactic in a bid to deter recidivist drink drivers - he's calling on Kaitaia to stop accepting "unacceptable" behaviour, and is inviting the Northland Age to lead the charge.
"Maybe the court of public opinion can achieve what this court, unfortunately and embarrassingly, hasn't been able to achieve," he said in the Kaitaia District Court on Thursday.
"I am instructing that every summary of facts [relating to seven people who appeared for sentencing on their third or subsequent drink-driving conviction] be given to the Northland Age, to do with as it wishes." (One lawyer objected to that, saying the 'facts' could be taken out of context).
"I would have granted an application to use a camera in this court today [a process that ordinarily requires a written application to be made in advance]. If these people need to have their photos plastered over the front page, so be it.
"People have to understand that if they choose to drink and drive there are consequences. When seven of 15 sentencings are for drinking and driving for the third or subsequent time, what else is there to do?
"Clearly the message has not got through to seven people in Kaitaia. If it's shame and embarrassment that is required, so be it. It is time to curb this epidemic of drinking and driving in the Far North." He also had a message for the wider Kaitaia community, which he accused of turning a blind eye to drink driving.
"This offending is being enabled by the community, by friends and whanau who don't say, 'You've drunk too much, you shouldn't be driving.' There is no personal responsibility on the part of the offenders, and there is no collective responsibility in the community.
"This is a blight on Kaitaia and on Northland. Drink driving is accepted by this community as acceptable behaviour. A drink-driving conviction should be a source of shame, but it almost seems to be a badge of honour."
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