Trying to outsmart the police has become a lot more difficult, with new technology fitted to booze buses.

Central Districts Police have fitted what's called a biometric system to its two buses, and it means officers will be able to instantly confirm suspects' identities without having to go back to their station.

The system lets officers digitally take fingerprints and photographs of people they intend to charge and compares that information against existing police records.

From an operational point of view, it happens instantly and any new information will be stored for future reference.


Inspector Dave White, CD road policing manager, said the technology will only be used on drivers who blow over the drink-drive limit in a roadside breath test or commit an alleged offence for which they can be summonsed.

Mr White said information will only be taken from people police intend to charge.

"It (the system) identifies the high-risk people when we're dealing with them on the side of the road. It means if the person we're dealing with already has extra sanctions imposed on them, then we'll know it straight away.

"And it also means we don't have the issue where people use other people's names - and they do. That creates difficulties not only for the person whose name they've used but also the person falsifying that information could avoid being charged."

Mr White said it meant the booze buses became virtually mobile police stations and brought the buses up to date with other technology police were using.

He said the biometric system would also help police get the most high-risk drivers off the roads faster and charging them from the outset and less time would be spent making follow-up investigations.

Alcohol is a factor in around 30 per cent of New Zealand's fatal road crashes, and in the past decade crashes caused by alcohol and drug-impaired drivers have resulted in the deaths of around 1163 people, and left another 5332 seriously injured.

Introduction of the new technology was just days before the Land Transport Amendment Bill (No2) comes into effect. From December 1, the adult breath alcohol limit is almost halved, as is the blood-alcohol limit.


"The new coloured vehicles we're using have got people talking, and along with better-equipped booze buses and changes to the drink-driving laws it's aimed at trying to make drinking and driving socially unacceptable," Mr White said.

"Most right-thinking people don't condone drink-driving, and we're now coming into that time of the year when it's high-risk."