A truck driver transporting a load of stock failed a drug impairment test in Northland and had to be pepper sprayed after officers allegedly discovered methamphetamine and cannabis in his cab.
It was one of the horrendous cases of illegal driving detected in the region by a 40-strong police team during a five-day traffic blitz.
But police reported the overwhelming response from thousands of motorists who were stopped was of support for officers taking illegal or dangerous drivers off the road to prevent fatal or serious injury crashes in the region.
The region's road toll for the year to date is 14 after 50-year-old man crashed off the road at Towai and was found dead in his car about 2am on Saturday.
Operation Northland ended on Sunday and was aimed at creating police visibility, offering alternative resolutions for motorists to get themselves legal if they were pulled over and found on the wrong side of the law.
Head of the operation Inspector Chris McLellan said there were some non-negotiable driving behaviours that warranted prosecution but roadside feedback was in support of the police operation.
"A majority of people were happy to see us and there was overwhelming feedback from members of the public that they wanted us out there taking dangerous drivers off the road.
"We have people on Northland roads at any time of the day with drugs and or alcohol in their systems when there are other innocent members of the community travelling on the roads. Police will continue to be relentless around trying to keep people safe on our roads."
The driver of a cattle truck and trailer was stopped about 1.30pm on Sunday at the Pakaraka weighbridge. McLellan said as an officer with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Team waved the truck off the road he had to take evasive action and as he was inspecting the vehicle he was struck by the truck as the driver allegedly tried to leave. The driver had to be pepper sprayed.
Police allegedly discovered methamphetamine and cannabis in the truck's cab.
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Arrangements were made for another driver to transport the stock to their destination.
A passenger in the truck was also wanted on warrants and was arrested. The truck driver was to appear in Kaikohe District Court on Monday.
During the blitz 15 vehicles were seized for a variety of driving offences including driving while disqualified and other licence offences. Twenty drivers were found drunk behind the wheel and 727 infringement notices were issued for a variety of traffic offences including speeding, failing to buckle up and using a cellphone while driving. Officers also visited 27 licensed premises and offered 50 people alternative resolutions.
There were plenty of people willing to text *555 to report dangerous driving or drunk drivers during the operation.
Of the thousands of people stopped the majority were wearing seatbelts, not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and driving safely.
But McLellan said what was disappointing was the number of children found unrestrained in vehicles with a two-year-old discovered in the floor well of one vehicle in the mid North.
In another incident police are working with a family to get restraints after eight children were discovered in the back of a van that had no seats but instead an insecure couch.
"We know that unrestrained people involved in a crash are likely to be ejected," he said.
In an another incident a police officer had to take evasive action to miss an oncoming driver in his lane near Omapere. The driver was breath tested and recorded a breath alcohol level of 820micrograms per litre of breath the legal limit for drivers 20 years and over is 250mcg.
A fleeing driver behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle, also a recidivist disqualified driver, was nabbed after a foot chase in the Mid North.
About 3pm on Sunday on State Highway 1 near Mangonui a driver was stopped on the way to his girlfriend's house. He allegedly was drinking and had a box of beers in the car. When breath tested he allegedly had a breath alcohol level of over 1100mcg.
Another issue that became evident was the number of drivers in Northland who do not have the correct licence or none at all. McLellan said for a lot of young Northlanders their entry into the court system was via driving indiscretions.
He said there were 48 providers in Northland that helped people get their licences and during the operation there were a number of referrals made to help drivers become legal on the road.
"Police can connect these drivers with agencies and awhi (support) them through the process so they get their licence."
Police said during 2017 and 2018 there were 3312 crashes in Northland with 269 of those crashes involving heavy motor vehicles. Of the crashes involving heavy motor vehicles 72 were the fault of the heavy motor vehicle driver.
Police were also armed with goodies to give away to motorists and included chocolates and warm knitted clothing for children during the operation.