8800 vehicles stopped in festive season drink-drive blitz

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 Central Otago.

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 wheel.

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 or over.

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 agreement immediately.

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.