Convictions entered in Masterton District Court for drink-driving are dropping - but experts say more needs to be done.

According to the Ministry of Justice, drink-driving convictions dropped from 261 in the 2010 financial year to 202 convictions in 2013/2014.

The number of drivers on their third or subsequent conviction also dropped - down from 64 to 45 a year over the five-year period. The convictions included people charged for driving with excess breath-alcohol, driving with excess blood-alcohol and refusing to provide a blood sample.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said the downward trend was positive but recidivist drink-drivers was still a concern.


"For a small area like ours that's a lot of people on their third or subsequent conviction," he said.

"The message seems to be getting across to most people who realise: A, it's not safe as they're putting themselves and others at risk, and B, that it's an antisocial activity.

"But unfortunately, there's a pocket of recidivist drivers with the profile male 25 to 50 or older who still think it's their right to have a few beers and drive home."

Heavy sanctions such as vehicle confiscation and imprisonment were sometimes the only way to get some people off the road, he said.

"I'd like to think we're making inroads into that demographic but those attitudes are the hardest to change."

New Zealand Transport Agency road safety director Ernst Zollner said it was encouraging to find the number of drink-driving convictions was reducing in many courts - but drink-driving was still a major problem. "It inflicts a huge amount of pain and suffering on New Zealand families and communities, and more needs to be done," he said.

"There are no silver bullets in road safety, but there are areas where the volume of scientific evidence is overwhelming in showing the benefits of a change, and lowering legal alcohol limits for driving is one of those areas.

"When you lower the alcohol limit and back that up with effective publicity and targeted enforcement, you save lives and prevent serious injuries."


The zero alcohol limit for teens, alcohol interlocks to disable cars when alcohol is detected on the breath and new penalties for serious and repeat drink-driving offenders would also help.

AA spokesman Dylan Thomsen said the message to not drink and drive seemed to be getting through to most - but more needed to be done about recidivist drink-drivers.

"The lowered drink-driving limit might have changed the behaviour of some people but it's not enough to change the behaviour of hard core drink-drivers," he said.

"A lot of those people have serious drinking problems - their issues are much bigger than just driving."

Mr Thomsen said the AA supported the use of alcohol interlock systems.

"They've proven to be really successful overseas but there hasn't been that many put in, in the couple of years that they have been able to be used as a part of a person's conviction.

"A person might not intend to drive when they're sober but they get behind the wheel not realising how drunk they are. The interlock system stops them from that."