Police Commissioner Mike Bush has opened up about a historic drink driving conviction, saying he was - and remains - "hugely disappointed" in himself.

In his weekly blog that is distributed to the media and all police staff, Bush revealed he had a drink driving conviction.

The public admission was sparked by a journalist asking him whether he had any convictions.

Police commissioner Mike Bush admits historical drink driving charge


Less than an hour after the blog post was published Bush sat down with the Herald at the Auckland Central police station.

There, he detailed the night he was charged with drink driving.

It was 1983, he was 23 years old and had only been a police officer for five years.

"I was dropping off a colleague at a hotel, I'd been hosting him for a dinner," Bush told the Herald.

"I was pulled over by an Auckland City Council traffic enforcement officer. I didn't think I was over, actually.

"I'd had a few drinks with dinner. I think I was right on the limit."

As he sat in his car and realised he was over the legal breath alcohol limit, the reality of the situation began to sink in.

"I was very disappointed in myself," he said.


"One of the main reasons I was so disappointed was when I reflected and realised I hadn't just done something wrong, I'd done something dangerous."

Bush appeared in the Auckland District Court and pleaded guilty to driving with excess breath alcohol.

He was fined $250 and disqualified from driving for six months.

Luckily, his police bosses supported him in obtaining a limited licence so he could drive at work.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said he was disappointed in his drink driving conviction. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said he was disappointed in his drink driving conviction. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"It was hugely embarrassing with my colleagues and friends and family," Bush said.

"I wasn't going to defend it - I'd done it so the best approach was to plead guilty, take my medicine and learn from it."

While Bush was open with the Herald about the conviction, it was clear he was not pleased to be speaking about it.

He said he had made no secret of the conviction, but chose not to publicise it regularly.

It was a fact he disclosed to the State Services Commission as part of the application process for the roles of Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner.

"I don't talk about it too openly," he said.

"A lot of people know about it, it's no secret, but I'm not proud of it.

"I talk about it when asked. It is a matter of public record."

Police across the country received the Commissioner's blog at the same time as the media.

When he sat down with the Herald he had not yet had much of a response because the post had only being published for about 45 minutes.

Bush said it was crucial that he was open, honest and transparent about his conviction.

"I expect there will be varied responses, but so far my colleagues have been very supportive," he said.