Repeat drink drivers will now have to pass a breathalyser test before their car even starts and Tauranga locals are happy about the move.

This week Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss announced people with two or more drink driving offences in a five year time period, or anyone caught 3.2 times over the legal alcohol limit would soon have alcohol interlocks put into their car.

The alcohol interlock would be wired into the vehicle's starting system, requiring drivers to pass a breath test before the car could start.

The interlock could not turn off a vehicle, but occasionally required drivers to take another breath test a certain period after the car was started, so only the driver could take the test.


Bay of Plenty AA chairman Terry Molloy said he thought mandatory installation of alcohol interlocks for drink drivers was a "very good idea".

"It's far better than a fine... It would make everyone on the road safer," he said.

Mr Molloy said the small number of alcohol interlocks that had already been installed had proved to be effective and had stopped "a very high number of offenders".

Manager of Smart Start Interlocks Gavin Foster said he had seen the benefits of alcohol interlocks.

"They change ingrained habits and behaviour. They've been instrumental in bringing change in [the user's] lives."

He said prior to the announcement alcohol interlocks would be mandatory for repeat and serious offenders, judges could implement them at their discretion, which meant there was a low uptake.

Tauranga Auto Electric owner and interlock installer Gavin Banyard said they had a wide range of clients who had alcohol interlocks installed.

"Some people have family members they're concerned about... and the other 90 per cent are court imposed."

He said many of those people had kept the alcohol interlocks after the usual 12 month court imposed time period.

New Zealand Police operations manager of road policing Inspector Peter McKennie said the alcohol interlocks for repeat and serious offenders benefited all road users.

Local man Roy Nathan, who has previously spoken of his guilt after causing the crash which killed Katikati woman Jeannetta van Heuckelum while he was drunk, said "any initiative that will potentially save lives and reduce offending rates has my tick of approval".

AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen said the interlock had stopped 4137 drink-driving attempts since they were introduced in 2013.

The cost of the interlock would be covered by the offender, but $4 million had been approved as a Government subsidy for the devices.

The interlock is wired into the vehicle's ignition. Any breath-alcohol reading higher than zero will activate the lock.

Tauranga youth support mandatory breathalysers

Head of Students Against Dangerous Driving at Tauranga Girls' College, student Madison Sykes said it was important that "we do anything possible to prevent drunk driving on our roads, and to prevent the risk of people dying on our roads".

Otumoetai College's SADD leader William Raisbeck, 17, he thought the mandatory installation of alcohol interlocks would be great.

"Anyone who had had an issue with drunk driving in the past should have that."