A repeat drunk driver has made a desperate plea for a taxpayer-funded interlock to stop him getting behind the wheel.

The man has amassed seven drink-driving convictions - the last in 2015 - and has twice been imprisoned for driving-related incidents.

The 54-year-old says he has since made huge strides in kicking his addiction and has a learner's driving licence. He rents an interlock for his car costing $175 for installation and a three-monthly service fee of $525.

But he wants ACC funding to secure the continued use of the device and ensure he never drives under the influence.


Although the corporation does fund interlock devices in some cases, it has rejected the man's pleas.

"I'm going to run out of money, I can't pay for it next month ... I'm already stressing," he told the Herald on Sunday.

"If I'm safe, everyone's safe ... it's keeping me off the road drunk."

An ACC spokeswoman told the Herald on Sunday because the man did not have a full driver's licence, they were "unable to consider his request".

"We would reconsider the request should he regain his full licence," she said.

The man is in the process of trying to regain his full licence.

The man, who the Herald on Sunday has chosen not to name, acknowledged he had made a "huge mistake" driving while over the limit.

But claims his life was "wrecked" after being abused by a church official while growing up and suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder many years after the offending.

The ACC decision also said the man had failed to meet certain treatment requirements to be eligible for the interlock. He said he had been unable to meet those requirements.

ACC was unable to provide figures on how many alcohol interlocks it had funded, and the associated cost to the taxpayer.

To qualify for funding from ACC, the spokeswoman said any applicant had to show what they had applied for would aid their recovery and restoration of their health.

"If [the man] was applying for funding the interlock device as part of his 'treatment' for alcohol dependency, we would likely consider whether it has a purpose of restoring health, as required in the legislation," she said.

"The other areas besides treatment where we may consider the request to fund the device could be social or vocational rehabilitation to help achieve a return to independence. One example would be if it was a cost effective alternative to funding transport to the social rehabilitation programme."

ACC is helping to fund the man for travel costs, as well as counselling and also pays an independence allowance.

Automobile Association spokesman Dylan Thomsen said it was pleasing to see the man taking pro-active steps to avoid getting behind the wheel after drinking.

But he realised ACC had its policies it had to adhere to.

"Having an alcohol interlock in the car is going to be the most effective way of keeping him off the roads [if he has been drinking], which is what we need," Thomsen said.

"Funding is a big issue. It's $2500 a year to have it installed and monitored ... some people aren't able to afford it."

Thomsen said he hoped extra funding would be provided to "beef up" the number of interlocks provided for recidivist drink drivers who couldn't afford an interlock.

He said the interlock programme had prevented more than 4100 attempts for drivers to get behind the wheel under the influence since 2013.

"That is 100 drink-drive attempts prevented each month with only a couple of hundred interlocks in use across New Zealand," Thomsen said.

"Many drink-drivers have serious alcohol problems. A court sentence taking away their licence doesn't prevent them being able to get back behind the wheel the next time they get drunk. An interlock will mean they can't drive their car with any alcohol in their system."

How interlocks work

• Wired into the vehicle's ignition
• The driver breathes into the interlock before starting the vehicle
• Any breath-alcohol reading higher than zero will activate the lock
• The driver is also required to provide a breath sample at random times during vehicle use
• Each month the vehicle must be taken to the installer for servicing and have usage data downloaded
• If the vehicle is not taken for a scheduled device service, the lock will be activated