The number of drink-drivers caught during a blitz in a small Waikato town has horrified police.
Drivers in Tirau, which has a population of around 800, kept the police’s Rotorua-based Traffic Alcohol Group busy last Friday night during a targeted hit on drink-drivers in the South Waikato district.
Tokoroa Police Senior Sergeant Jason Henderson says they weren’t prepared for how many would be apprehended.
“It produced some deplorable results with about 14 for the whole of the South Waikato but seven of those were in Tirau alone.
“For a Friday/Saturday it is quite a horrendous amount,” he says.
Jason says many of those stopped were more than double the legal limit of 250 micrograms per litre of breath.
“I know that some of the levels were up around the 800mcg mark and the real concerning levels came from random stops rather than checkpoints.
“There is no excuse or reason for them to be drinking and driving like that.
“The risk they are putting themselves and others in is a real concern,” he says.
Jason says those caught were looking at some hefty penalties.
“Depending on the level they are pretty much all looking at a minimum disqualification of six months and a fine which will normally reflect the level that they blew.
“If they are 600mcg they might get a $600 fine or thereabouts but it depends on whether they have had a previous convictions or not so it could be more.
“Those that blew in the lower range, under 400mcg, were likely given a $250 fine and 50 demerit points,” he says.
Jason urges people to prearrange alternative transport home if they were out drinking.
“It is a concerning thing that so many people up there think it is ok to drink and drive and basically though they could get away with it.
“It is a matter of reminding people that if they are going out drinking that they need to arrange alternative transportation home otherwise they can expect to be apprehended.
“The thing is with our group and the way we work, once we catch a few we will go looking for more. If there are this many there are probably others that have been getting away with it as well,” says Jason.
He says police will continue to target the district’s smaller communities.