A drunk driver who almost crashed into a police checkpoint in New Plymouth pretended to have a heart attack in an effort to escape being arrested on Wednesday night.

Sergeant Pat Duffy told Fairfax the driver was clutching his chest and exhibited signs of having a heart attack.

"He then told officers that he had chest pains and was having difficulty breathing," Duffy said.

"Traffic needed to be diverted around the vehicle that was now blocking the roadway and the driver was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital by ambulance shortly after."

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When police later went to check on the man's condition, officers discovered he was outside the hospital smoking a cigarette.

"Police were disappointed in the driver's actions as it appears he faked a heart attack, tied up an ambulance, preventing it from being able to attend other medical emergencies," Duffy explained.

"His claimed heart attack symptoms appeared to be an attempt to avoid the alcohol check point and after a breath screening test indicated that he was over the legal alcohol limit to be driving, a blood sample has been taken and sent for analysis."

Duffy said it would be a couple of weeks before the test results were known.

- Herald online