The number of drink drivers caught on Western Bay of Plenty roads has hit a record high for a third consecutive year.
|A member of Tauranga’s Traffic Alcohol Group breath tests a motorist. Breath tests can be expected anytime, anywhere.|
There were 1813 drivers prosecuted for drink driving on roads in the Western Bay of Plenty in 2008, up from 1435 in 2006 and 1674 in 2007.
Police say the official figure may increase marginally because of a backlog of blood samples that still need to be processed from the Christmas and New Year period.
Senior Sergeant Ian Campion, head of the Western Bay of Plenty Strategic Traffic Unit, is hugely disappointed with the number.
“If you think about the number of drink drivers in a community our size, it’s appalling. I certainly think it’s time drink driving became socially unacceptable,” says Ian.
He would welcome any government strategy to address the issue of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.8 grams of alcohol per litre of breath to a level of 0.5 grams, which is the limit in Australia.
“I support the lowering of the alcohol level, which will result in fewer people getting injured and dying.
“The difference at the moment is that alcohol levels are so high that when it gets to the point where individuals are at the legal level, they are not able to make rational decisions about whether they are able to drive or not,” says Ian.
Statistics from 2008 show that 74 per cent of those processed for drink driving were male, 47.4 per cent were in the 17-24 age group and 21 per cent in the 25-34 age group.
There were 55 crashes during the Christmas and New Year period (4pm December 24, 2008 to 6am January 5, 2009) compared to 35 the previous year.
Although the Christmas and New Year period has ended, Ian says drivers can still expect to be breath tested by police.
“It must be obvious to Tauranga residents that they can expect to come across a booze bus anytime, anywhere and it will continue to rid roads of drunk drivers this year,” says Ian.