The number of number of drunk drivers caught by police has climbed more than 50 per cent in five years

The Dominion Post reported police figures showed that nearly 36,000 drink-driving offences were recorded last year the highest on record. The number has been increasing steadily since 2002, when just under 23,500 offences were recorded.

Police said better enforcement was a reason for the hefty increase.

But health experts were adamant that more people are climbing behind the wheel drunk, despite millions of dollars being pumped into advertising campaigns aimed at cutting the road toll.

By last night, 175 people had died on New Zealand's roads this year, 15 more than at the same time last year. Alcohol is thought to have been a factor in at least a third of the deaths.

The number of convictions will not be available until July, but was expected to be a record.