Drivers change their drinking habits

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The message not to drink and drive is getting through, cops say.

A lower allowable alcohol level was introduced last December – meaning drivers with breath-alcohol readings of between 251mcg and 400mcg get slapped with $200 infringement fees and 50 demerit points.

That’s starting to alter drivers’ drinking habits, Otago rural drink-drive squad head sergeant Bruce Martin says.

“On a day-to-day basis at the coal face, I think it has had quite an effect on the average driver.

“Drivers that we speak to make the comment that under the new law, ‘I don’t know where it sits now’ - and they’re having the one drink instead of the three or four they used to have.”

The comments come after a bad night for drink-driving in Queenstown at the weekend.

Ten people were caught drink-driving within four hours on Lake Esplanade on Saturday night.

Although disappointing, the number caught was “quite unusual” for the resort, Martin says.

In the wider Queenstown area, in the three months after the new law came into effect, 33 drivers were prosecuted for being over 400mcg - compared to 36 prosecutions during the same period a year earlier.