More than 8800 vehicles were stopped during the festive
season anti-drink-drive blitz by police around the Queenstown
Lakes and Central Otago districts and 10 motorists face
drink-driving charges, eight more than for the same period
the previous year.
Sergeant Craig Cox and four officers from the Traffic Alcohol
Group, based in Invercargill, covered mostly the Queenstown
area, while Sergeant Bruce Martin and four officers from the
Rural Drink Drive Squad, based in Alexandra, covered mostly
They operated road checkpoints, often in torrential rain in
the early hours, and mobile stops in roaming vehicles, from
December 28 to January 3.
Sgt Martin told the Otago Daily Times while many drivers were
not drinking at all, or were fully rested and had eaten
before driving after drinking the previous evening, it was
''disappointing'' some drivers had not taken the time to let
the alcohol leave their system before getting behind the
Excess breath-alcohol readings averaged in the mid to high
500mcg, ''well and truly over the limit'' of 400mcg per litre
of breath, or 80mg per 100ml of blood for those aged 20 years
The alcohol limit is zero for motorists aged under 20 years.
The highest excess reading was 1130mcg, registered by a
Christchurch man stopped in Lake Esplanade, Queenstown, at
9pm on New Years's Day.
''If you've been drinking alcohol, take a cab or have a sober
driver. If you're feeling hung over, you shouldn't be
driving,'' Sgt Martin said.
Of special concern was the 30-year-old mother from
Christchurch who was was charged with driving with a
breath-alcohol level of 476mcg. Checked at the fatigue stop
in Tarras on December 30, she had her 22-month-old baby and
10-month-old baby as passengers in the car.
Another example of poor driving was the 22-year-old Chinese
man driving with his new wife as the passenger on their
honeymoon. He was stopped after overtaking a marked police
car at 130kmh on State Highway 8, 3km from Omarama, on
January 3, Sgt Martin said.
A man told police the Chinese man had been ''driving
atrociously'' through the winding Lindis Pass, speeding and
overtaking on blind corners.
Police contacted the visitor's rental car company and the
company agreed police should cancel the visitor's rental
The couple were transported by police car to Omarama, where
they stayed overnight at their own expense and the next day
they took a shuttle to Christchurch Airport, Sgt Martin said.