Drink-driving in rural Otago is on the increase and
police say they will crack down on drivers over the entire
region during this holiday period.
According to New Zealand Police statistics released to the
Otago Daily Times, southern drivers convicted of
drink-driving are on average more intoxicated than those in
the rest of New Zealand.
Incidences of drink-driving in the Southern police district
have decreased from last year, in line with the national
trend, but after falling below 500 in 2010-11, prosecutions
from rural Otago and Southland rose to 513 last year.
Sergeant Bruce Martin, of the police Rural Drive Group, said
this was because of an internal campaign by police which
resulted in more drunk drivers being caught in high-risk
Queenstown, which comes under the rural Otago umbrella, had a
high drink-driving rate because of its tourist population,
being a holiday resort and the fact the town had only three
entry and exit points, he said.
Until this year, he said, Otago rural drivers were showing
signs of being sensible behind the wheel. A total of 513
drink-drivers were prosecuted in 2012 - an increase of 36
over last year.
The number of drink-drivers in Southland had increased from
639 last year to 752, and Sgt Martin said offences in
Invercargill were a key driver of this statistic.
''We always seem to have plenty of work when we go down
there,'' he observed. Dunedin drivers had shown they were
becoming more responsible on the roads, with 510 drink-drive
offenders this year, well down from the 613 in 2011.
Sgt Martin said this was cyclical and showed people in the
city were listening to enforcement messages.
Last week his staff stopped 12,500 vehicles in Dunedin and
Invercargill between Thursday and Saturday nights and charged
just two people with drink-driving.
Police statistics also show the levels of intoxication in the
entire southern region were higher than the national average,
with 8.1% of those caught recording a breath-alcohol level
higher than 1000mcg, compared with the national figure of
Sgt Martin said rural parts of the country still held on to a
drink-driving culture where people thought they could beat
''It's that same old story of `I'll take the back road and
the car knows the way home'.''
He promised police would be showing up at the most ''unknown
and unexpected'' of places and at any time, both ''day and
His advice was to plan ahead with courtesy coaches or sober
drivers and: ''If you're drinking, don't drive a car. It
takes all the guesswork out of it.''
Drinking and driving
• Nationally, drink-driver numbers increase from about 6pm,
but in the Southern region increase from 8pm. Southern
district has third-lowest number of total offences and the
third-lowest rate of offending per 10,000 population.
• Nationally, more drivers are apprehended on Friday nights
than Saturday nights, but Southern police record a higher
percentage of offending on Saturday nights and Sunday
• Nationally, those caught were from Australia, Argentina,
Brazil, France, India, Ireland, South Africa, the UK and the
• Just one drink-driver was caught by police in the Otago
rural region out of 5000 stopped during last year's December
29-January 2 holiday period.