Someone in my family is always missing from family gatherings. He didn't get to walk his daughter up the aisle. He didn't get to see his grandchildren born.

A little boy and a girl whose only connection to their poppa is the flowers they leave on his grave every Christmas and the times they catch their mum quietly crying.

A loss even more poignant in that it was totally avoidable; my sister-in-law's father was killed by a drunk driver.

It is a pain that Tauranga's Evans family can relate to. They lost their 18-year-old son Grant to a drunk driver after a car travelling in the opposite direction crossed the centre line near Kerepehi and crashed into him.


It was back in 1981 but the pain says Ken Evans, never goes away. To lose someone at all is bad enough but to lose someone in these circumstances even worse.

Drink driving is back in the spotlight this month.

First former All Black and New Zealand golden boy Dan Carter has admitted to drink-driving in Paris last week. Carter was caught drink-driving by French police with a blood alcohol level of 0.98g per litre, above the legal limit of 0.5g.

He also reportedly did not have his driver's licence with him. French rugby journalist Richard Escot said he understood Carter had consumed around four glasses of red wine at a dinner with his club and was not on a big night out when he was stopped by police for speeding on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Then yesterday Police Commissioner Mike Bush admitted a historical drink-drive conviction. Following inquiries by the media, he made the admission of a drink-driving conviction that happened 34 years ago when he was an off-duty detective constable in Auckland in 1983.

Both incidents are shocking in my opinion, but what is just as shocking is the reaction of some of the public to the Carter incident at least.

Yes, it is good that Carter has stood up and apologised but judging by the comments in social media that alone in some people's eyes is enough. He "stuffed up" but his light still shines. He is still to them, "Dan the man".

Yesterday former sports television journalist Bernadine Oliver-Kerby praised Carter's apology in an opinion column,


"Drink driving. Dumb decision, clever clean-up."

Drink driving is so much more than a "dumb decision" or a "stuff up", it is a calculated choice to do something that knowingly endangers oneself and others.

The watering down of drink driving as a minor crime or just a bad decision propagates the idea that, ''oh everyone does it, it is kind of okay as long as you don't get caught''.

The national forgiving of Carter combines two of our worst national traits. Firstly putting sports people on a pedestal even when they do wrong, and secondly a blind ability to ignore our problem drinking culture, which leads to a blase approach to drinking and driving.

Bush's confession is just as devastating. With the only exonerating factor perhaps that in 34 years there has been such an attempt by police to crack down on drink driving that nowadays it is unthinkable surely that an officer would get away without losing his job.

But even his language too belies the seriousness of the crime, saying it was "poor judgment".

Tell that to my sister-in-law or Ken Evans or any of the thousands of families who have lost a relative to a drunk driver.

The national road toll for 2016 was 326 - with a substantial amount of lives lost in crashes where alcohol was involved. As Mike Bush said yesterday in his mea culpa statement,

"Alcohol plays a significant role in death and injury on our roads."

I am with Ken Evans, who has always campaigned for tougher penalties for drunk drivers, including mandatory confiscation of cars and longer suspension.

Although everyone deserves forgiveness for their mistakes, for me, a simple word of sorry isn't enough.

Imagine the influence someone like Dan Carter would have if he used his dreadful mistake to communicate a message about how wrong drink driving is.

It would be so much more a powerful message than the well-meaning but, in my view, ineffectual campaigns such as "your balls are in my hands".

Dan, your balls are in your hands.

Anyone can say sorry, but now it is in your hands to do something about it.

Many people in New Zealand look up to you, including hundreds of thousands of kids. If they heard from you how wrong drink driving is, maybe you could stop some of them getting in the car after a few wines, like you did, thinking it is okay.

Maybe you could save a few poppas and sons.

Until then I don't forgive you.

Dan, you're no longer the man.