Police are reminding people to ensure they have a sober driver after a Whangarei woman dressed in a Santa outfit was charged with drink-driving after allegedly crashing into a hospital barrier.

Police were called to Whangarei Hospital at 1.19pm yesterday after a 59-year-old woman "dressed in a Santa outfit" allegedly hit a barrier at the entrance to the hospital before fleeing, leaving the vehicle stuck on a barrier.

As two officers were talking to a woman, on Maunu Rd when, wearing a Santa hat and festive red, she walked off.

A low-speed foot pursuit ensued with the officers walking briskly after the woman, who stopped.


She was heard telling them: "I can still drive, I've been driving for years."

The woman, who may find herself on Santa's naughty list, was handcuffed and taken away in the police car about 1.40pm.

The 59-year-old will be appearing in court next week charged with driving with excess breath alcohol.

Northland District Health Board did not wish to comment.

Police said while they want people to have fun this festive season, they also want people to be safe.

"Police advise going easy on the alcohol, and try to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic or water.

"Ensure that you have a sober driver who isn't drinking, or organise a safe way to get home," a spokesman said.

Police encouraged all party-goers and holiday-makers to look out for themselves and their friends and family, to ensure that everyone has celebrations they remember for the right reasons.