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An innovative programme, aimed at reducing drink-driving in the Waitaki district, might be tried in other areas if a six-month trial proves successful. Sally Rae checks on its progress.
"It does happen . . . it's still happening. Probably as I'm speaking people are doing it right now."
The "it" John (not his real name) refers to is drink-driving - a topic with which he is very familiar.
Last year, he admitted a charge of refusing to permit a blood specimen to be taken, his third drink-driving conviction, and he was later sentenced in the Oamaru District Court.
John is one of 56 people to have gone through the recidivist drink-driver programme since it was launched by Judge Stephen O'Driscoll in November last year.
Forty-five of those were convicted for drink-driving and the others were convicted on driving-related charges and chose to take part. There have also been additional youth offenders.
Prior to sentencing, drink-drivers appearing in the Oamaru District Court view a DVD containing footage from television programme 10-7, as well as locally filmed incidents. It shows the effects a drink-driver can have on victims and their families.
After viewing the DVD, the offenders complete a questionnaire which is then handed to the sitting judge, with the answers and attitudes taken into consideration during sentencing.
"It's a pretty good idea . . . something that should have been done quite a long time ago," John said.
He believed it should be shown at secondary school - "it's got to be a must" - to bring home the far-reaching effects of drink-driving.
For him, the DVD "hit home".
John's two earlier drink-driving convictions were when he was much younger, with his second conviction 11 years ago.
Now in his mid-30s, he made the foolish decision to drive home while he was at a friend's home.
He realised now that he should have rung his partner to collect him, as he knew he was over the limit. But, as he said, "you just don't think".
The ramifications of his offending, and subsequent penalties, had been "big", including nearly breaking up with his partner over it. It had major effects on her, something he had not previously thought about.
While impressed with the DVD, John thought it could be further improved by having a drink-driver appear on it, maybe someone who had killed somebody through their actions.
The programme might be tried in other areas if the trial proves successful.
In the meantime, retired police sergeant Derek Beveridge, who is managing the programme, and Waitaki community safety officer Alison Banks say it has to be proved it works. While there will be some who are "telling porkies", quite a number seemed "quite genuine" in what they wrote, Mr Beveridge said.
Some had shed a few tears and others had "shocked" looks on their faces as they watched the DVD.
A high percentage knew people featuring on the DVD, and that local segment was the key to it, he said.
The two main points to come from the questionnaire was that many did not think they were over the limit and that they did not realise the consequences, particularly how it affected others, Mrs Banks said.
The "telling truth" would be what happened after their disqualification period ended and they got their driver's licence back, she said.
There had been so much positive feedback about the DVD to the point where people were saying it should be shown in schools.
After a month, a second evaluation form was sent to offenders and that was proving interesting, with some saying they had stopped drinking. Another evaluation was sent further down the track.
Response to DVD
Comments from recidivist drink-drivers who have seen the DVD:-
• "It's a rude shock to see the realities on families that have been unfortunate enough to lose a loved one but certainly worthwhile because it certainly sent a message home."
• "I'm never going to drink and drive, ever".
• "It really makes you think of the effects on others."
• "It opened my eyes on the facts of drink-driving and speed".
• "I never thought about the consequences to my actions. I will never do it again."