Cops tally up boozed drivers


Queenstown cops catch a drink-driver every other day on average.

Resort police charged a whopping 182 people for being over the limit and behind the wheel last year.

The force now keeps a running total on its Facebook page.

This year, by the end of February, another 23 were sent to court after failing a breath or blood test.

Road policing inspector Tania Brown says nationwide the number of drink-drivers has been falling since 2010.

She couldn’t confirm how Queenstown compares but says it can be a challenge getting the message across in the resort.

“As with any area which has a transient population, there are difficulties in delivering key messages.”

But she says many of those caught are New Zealanders and they should know better.

“Also, through the wider visiting drivers project, visitors are given information on our roads and the requirements expected of them when they use them.”

Drink-drive limits were lowered in December 2014, although the criminal limit remained the same.

Drivers caught with more than 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, or 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, go to court.

They’ll be banned from the roads for at least six months.

They can also be jailed for a first offence for up to three months and fined as much as $4500.

But judges generally fine them about the same amount as their breath alcohol level.

That means for a level of 500mcg you’ll get pinged $500.

Disqualification periods and fines increase if the driver already has a conviction for drink-driving.

For those caught drink-driving three times or more, jail’s a real possibility - they can be imprisoned for up to two years, get community detention and an indefinite disqualification.

Drivers with between 250-400mcg, or 50-80mg, get a $200 ticket and 50 demerit points. They’re also banned from driving for 12 hours.

Baron says police use TV, social media, newspapers and face-to-face meetings to ram home the message.

Three alleged drink-drivers were processed last weekend.

They include a 26-year-old American man who was driving a scooter at a slow speed on Fernhill Road on Friday at 6.30pm. His female passenger fell off and broke her elbow. A breath test on the driver revealed a reading of 500mcg.