Tauranga continues to hold an unenviable record for drink-driving, ranking sixth-worst justice service area for the number of convictions nationwide.
Latest figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal that 697 people were convicted in Tauranga District for driving under the influence in the 12 months to June 30 this year.
This compares to 1296 convictions in Manakau District Court which ranked number one, followed by Auckland (1132), Christchurch (1191), Hamilton (804) and North Shore (758).
In the 12 months to June 30, 2019, 817 drink-drivers were convicted in Tauranga District Court, 36 more than five years ago.
The latest data comes as Western Bay and Bay of Plenty road policing teams are ramping up efforts to try to stamp out risky behaviour, including drink- and drug-impaired driving.
The court convictions did not include adults fined for exceeding the lowered adult alcohol limit of 250mcg per litre of breath or 50mg of blood alcohol.
Another 315 adult drivers in the Western Bay of Plenty police district were issued infringement notices for doing so in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, and 74 under-20 drivers who are subject to a zero alcohol limit.
Nineteen drivers were also fined for driving drug-impaired, which is four more than the previous 12 months.
Of those convicted, 18 offenders were jailed, 25 sentenced to home detention and another 48 were sentenced to community detention.
Another 78 received some form of supervision to help them address the root cause of their offending and 90 were also given community work
Tauranga drink-driving convictions surpass those entered in the Rotorua, Whakatāne and Ōpotiki courts which collectively totalled more than 580.
Another 64 people were convicted In Waihi District Court for drink-driving during the same 12 months to June 30 this year - four fewer than in the previous 12 months.
Police say that alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in about a third of all fatal crashes.
Western Bay of Plenty police road safety manager Senior Sergeant Rob Glencross said the Ministry of Justice and road policing data accounted only for people caught.
"It would be naive to believe there are not lots more people out there driving alcohol-impaired, including many who have been doing so for a long time.
"But it is our mission to try to eliminate these sorts of risky behaviours entirely and that is why we will be ramping up our enforcement measures over the summer period."
Glencross said the Western Bay and Eastern Bay of Plenty police alcohol impairment teams support each other to cover the district and people can expect to be randomly stopped at "anywhere and any time".
said police remained committed to preventing harm in the communities as the summer months approached, especially on our roads.
"We will continue to target risky behaviours such as not wearing seat belts, using cellphones, speeding, distractions as well as impaired drivers."
Glencross said the police message was that drink-driving was socially and legally wrong,
and drivers needed to have a plan if they intended socialising to prevent driving home.
Glencross said drink-driving can result in "life-changing" consequences for the driver, their families, friends and work colleagues.
"Don't risk it, it's just not worth it."
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Tauranga drug and alcohol addiction service providers are reporting an increase in people wanting help for their alcohol and drug issues.
Jill Knowler, the clinical director of Hanmer Clinic Tauranga, said post the Covid-19 lockdown the clinic had noted a "significant" increase in referrals.
"Our intake co-ordinator has also noticed an increase in clients presenting because of drink/drug driving infringement notices post lockdown, and we have had to extend our normal wait times for new referrals," she said.
"We have also been busy with existing clients needing re-stabilisation due to the anxiety experienced with the risk of Covid-19 and being isolated from their normal supports including their counsellor and group programme they attend regularly at the clinic.".
"Our referrals are higher than in previous years and face-to-face follow-ups have definitely increased since post the Covid-19 lockdown.
"We have also been busy with existing clients needing re-stabilisation due to the anxiety experienced with the risk of Covid-19 and being isolated from their normal supports.
This included their regular counsellor and group programme, she said.
Other alcohol and addictions services in the Western Bay area also said it had been "full-on" with inquiries, some prompted by the recent Mental Health Awareness Week.
Get Smart Tauranga Drug and Alcohol Services helps youth aged 13 to 25 years.
Manager Stuart Cauldwell said the service had not noticed a marked increase in inquiries in the past few months.
"But we always have a steady stream for this type of presentation, and mainly some of these clients are hoping to mitigate the severity of the judge's sentence by seeing us."
"Obviously with fewer people driving during the lockdown our numbers would be about the same as this time last year," he said.
Cauldwell said most people could get an appointment with the service's clinicians within one to two weeks of being referred and urged people to seek help early.