Police are warning Queenstown motorists to be on guard due to the on-going menace of drink-driving and accidents.
More than a dozen drivers appeared in Queenstown District Court this week charged with drink-driving offences.
One gave the highest blood alcohol reading that Queenstown senior constable Chris Blackford has seen in 38 years of policing.
“I’ve processed hundreds and hundreds of drink-drive cases over the years and that is the single highest blood test reading I’ve seen,” Blackford says.
Cassandra Wynne was found to have 252 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood when stopped in Arrowtown at 3.30am on September 8.
The 29-year-old, facing a sentence of community detention, was more than three times the legal limit of 80mg.
“It is the equivalent of a breath-alcohol reading of about 1250,” Blackford says.
Wynne’s lawyer Phena Byrne told Judge Michael Turner that Wynne was astounded at the amount of alcohol and she went back to the New Orleans Hotel in Arrowtown to review CCTV footage to count the number of wines she’d drunk.
Wynne didn’t believe what she’d consumed could produce such a high reading, Byrne says.
Judge Turner didn’t accept that explanation, telling Wynne: “That indicates to me that you have an alcohol problem.”
Judge Turner convicted and remanded her until November 19 for sentencing.
Blackford says: “There were about 12 people in court on Monday charged with drink driving – ranging from those slightly over the limit to people who were grossly intoxicated, like this woman.”
Blackford says local motorists should take care on the roads and ensure they have full insurance and properly-fitted seatbelts, especially as tourists in rental cars are often not paying attention.
Two Chinese tourists were involved in separate but similar crashes at Arrow Junction on Gibbston Highway during the past two weeks.
Both smashes were caused by the tourists turning in front of on-coming traffic – one was coming out onto the highway and the other, from Cromwell, was turning from the highway onto McDonnell Road towards Arrowtown.
“Huge numbers of tourists driving rental cars may never have even driven on the left before, so local drivers and residents always need to be on their guard.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of the town and it’s just part and parcel of living in a tourist destination.”
Driver’s own goal
An 18-year-old driver was processed for drink-driving after turning up at Queenstown’s police station smelling of alcohol.
The Queenstown teenager arrived at the station shortly after 10am on Wednesday to pick up his driver’s licence.
When asked by officers, he admitted he had driven to the station.
“He gave a blood sample, which has been sent away for analysis,” Blackford says.
Parking warden in a pickle
Police are appealing for help to trace a man who assaulted a Queenstown traffic warden on Rees Street in the CBD.
The male warden was threatened last Wednesday afternoon at about 2.15pm.
A skinny man, in his 20s, and wearing a bright green hoodie with stripes, a light-coloured baseball cap, and jeans, threatened to punch the warden in the face.
He then grabbed the $3000 ticket machine and threw it in Lake Wakatipu. He ran off along Beach Street.
“Inquiries are continuing,” Blackford says, “and we’d urge anyone with information to come forward.”