When our former editor David Williams launched Mountain Scene’s ‘Name And Shame’ anti drink-drive campaign back in June, he said names would be published on the front page until the end of the year.
He’s gone on to pastures new, but, as can be seen from this week’s front page, the problem obviously remains.
If anything, it’s getting worse.
We published 100 names on June 22. To the end of the year, 120 more were convicted of drink-driving on the district’s roads.
And look at some of the breath alcohol levels on page 6 of this edition – three drivers were more than four times the legal limit or thereabouts, on the roads, over Christmas. Four times the limit – that’s properly drunk and absolutely appalling.
Of course, it’s difficult to quantify how big the problem is.
If the police chose to stop rolling out the booze bus and random stops tomorrow, very few people would be caught.
The more resources aimed at catching drink-drivers, statistically the bigger the problem appears.
But, make no mistake, Queenstown does have a problem. While drink-driving almost everywhere else nationally is on the wane, over many years it’s increasing in Queenstown.
You’d imagine the country’s various police forces on average devote the same amount of resources to stopping hammered drivers.
Our reporters attend the full court sessions every two weeks at Queenstown District Court.
We sit there, as do the judges, the registrars, lawyers, probation and court staff, watching an endless parade of sad drink-drivers in the dock.
We watch as they make their ridiculous excuses – ‘I was just moving my car to another parking spot’ is a popular one – and as their lawyers trot out they’re “incredibly remorseful”, and as the judges dish out fines and bans.
We’re sick of it. They’re sick of it.
They do, as Judge Bernadette Farnan says, sound like a “broken record”. But nothing seems to change.
So, until it does, our campaign will continue. We’ll continue publishing the names of drink-drivers on the front page of Mountain Scene for the foreseeable future.
David’s decision to do this originally proved, in my eyes, surprisingly controversial. I don’t get it, really. We’re taking this stance out of genuine concern for the community.
The best argument I heard against it was that “shame is not a helpful emotion”, especially for someone with chronic alcohol problems or other personal or social issues.
That’s persuasive, I’ll admit.
But when your problems threaten the lives of other people, something needs to be done.
There’s never an excuse to endanger other people – you’ll have more shame when you kill an innocent person.