Fewer drink drivers

There had been a ''noticeable decrease'' in the number of drink drivers apprehended in the South since lower levels were introduced, police say.

On December 1, the breath-alcohol level for over-20s was slashed from 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath to 250mcg.

Southern District police have reported motorists are being ''much more cautious and refraining from having anything to drink prior to driving, which is pleasing'', acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Geoff Sutherland said.

''Police have seen a notable decrease in the number of drink-drivers being apprehended.''

Those officers, who stopped thousands of vehicles in Otago and Southland each month, also noted a reduction in the number of drink-drivers under-20.

The alcohol level for that group is now zero.

This follows a downward trend in the Southern District in 2013-14, with 1347 drink-drivers apprehended, compared with 1925 in 2008-09.

It appeared drivers were being more responsible, Snr Sgt Sutherland said. Those deciding to drink alcohol were making plans for getting home that did not involve driving, he said.

Figures released to the Otago Daily Times show a 41-year-old Oamaru man has the dubious distinction of having the district's highest breath-alcohol level since 2010-11, recording 1662mcg.

Dr Leo Schep, a toxicologist with the National Poisons Centre, in Dunedin, estimated that for an 85kg man to reach that limit, he would have to drink 18.7 cans of 4% beer.

A 70kg woman - to reach the top female level of 1623mcg held by a 46-year-old Invercargill woman - would need to consume a dozen of the same strength beer to reach that level.

Snr Sgt Sutherland said few people returned such high readings, and those who did often had a serious and problematic relationship with alcohol.

''They pose a real risk to themselves and others, as does anyone who drinks and drives. Some of those drivers would be recidivist offenders and their relationship with alcohol was likely to have a negative impact in many ways, including the potential to cause significant harm on our roads.

''It is an awful reality that there are still people in our communities who make the bad decision to get behind the wheel after drinking and put other people's lives at risk.''

He urged anyone who saw someone about to drive after drinking alcohol to ''do the right thing for your community and have a conversation with them about how they can get home safely''.

''People who consume alcohol and then drive create a deadly mix and are more likely to cause harm on our roads.

That can result in death or serious injury to themselves and others, often friends and family.''

Our worst drink-drivers
*Based on the five highest readings (micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath) supplied by 14 police stations in Otago and Southland in the four years ending 2013-14.

*Highest reading: 1662 mcg/litre (41-year-old male, Oamaru)
*Oldest offender: 68-year-old male (1640 mcg/litre, Alexandra)
*Youngest offender: 17-year-old male (1037 mcg/litre, Alexandra)
*Males: 69% (48 drivers)
*Females: 31% (22 drivers)

Alexandra     Balclutha
Alcohol level  Age  Gender  Alcohol level  Age  Gender 
1640  61  M 1242  24 
1480  68   M 1178  41 
1086  21   M 1174  35 
1083  62   M 1131  41 
1037  17   M 1112  42 
Dunedin Central  Dunedin North 
Alcohol level  Age  Gender  Alcohol level  Age  Gender
 1656 30  1419  42 
 1619 28  1389  51 
 1486 28  1294  54 
 1386 27  1253  21 
 1323 61  1237  29 
Dunedin South  Gore 
Alcohol level  Age  Gender  Alcohol level  Age  Gender 
1516 37  1260  24 
1402 32  1243 25  M
1367  53  1234  21 
1361  30  1175 24 
1322  46  1087  37 
Invercargill      Milton 
Alcohol level  Age  Gender  Alcohol level Age  Gender 
1623  46  1372  21 
1499  31  1149  29 
1404  37  1140  26 
1366  45  1123  56 
1296  27  1071  43 
Mosgiel      Oamaru 
Alcohol level  Age  Gender Alcohol level  Age  Gender 
1344  46 1662  41 
1284  46  1604  41 
1170  41  1303  52 
1132  45  1251  20 
1041  43  1226  28 
Queenstown      Te Anau 
Alcohol level  Age  Gender  Alcohol level  Age  Gender 
1540  40  1322  21 
1398  36  1296  53 
1372  23  1230  31 
1283  23  1146  19 
1240  36  1098  22 
Wanaka      Winton 
Alcohol level  Age  Gender  Alcohol level  Age  Gender 
1360  33  1259  54 
1338  53  1119  28 
1281  23  1105  44
1264  20  977  36 
1232  24  976  34 




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