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Colin "Banjo" Patterson may still have been here for his wife, children and grandchildren had the blood alcohol limit been lower.
The 41-year-old Kaimai deer farmer stopped in for two beers and two cans of pre-mixed Jim Beam after a day's work in Morrinsville in June last year.
Knowing he was below the legal limit, he started driving to Tauranga around 5.30pm.
Less than half-an-hour later, a farmer living on Hutchinson Rd just outside the Waikato town heard a loud noise. He ran outside to find a hole in the bridge railing and spotted a car almost completely submerged in the river below.
An autopsy revealed Patterson's blood alcohol level was 60mg per 100ml of blood 20mg below the legal limit.
Patterson's brother-in-law Don Fairgray believes the father-of-four and stepfather-of-four would never have got behind the wheel had he been over the limit.
The case prompted coroner Peter Ryan to call for the legal blood alcohol level to be lowered during an inquest held earlier this year.
"In my view this death highlights the need for the law to be amended to reduce the legal blood alcohol level for all drivers of vehicles," Ryan wrote in his findings.
"Alcohol has been proven to reduce reaction times of drivers. It also has been shown to affect drivers' ability to make proper decisions. Drivers need all their faculties to be unaffected when driving and they need to pay full attention to the task at hand."
The Government has so far refused to lower the legal blood alcohol limit. Their inaction inspired the Herald on Sunday's Two Drinks Max campaign aimed at ensuring drivers do not hit the road with more than two standard alcoholic drinks under their belts.
As the campaign enters its seventh week, more than 8100 New Zealanders have signed up to make our roads safer.
The coroner's findings into Patterson's death, released to the Herald on Sunday, was one of five reports detailing fatal crashes caused by drivers who had blood alcohol limits of between 50mg per 100ml of blood and 80mg over the last two years.
Over the same period the Coroners Office found 86 fatal crashes involved alcohol.
Of the other four coroners' reports into the deaths of six people, two involve drivers who were under 20 years old and so are subject to youth limits, and traces of cannabis were also found in the autopsies of the other two.