A lot of people will be having a Christmas tipple or two over the holidays, but how many will then get in the car and drive?
Drink driving continues to be a serious problem throughout New Zealand and is the second biggest contributing factor to road crashes. Drug driving is also a growing concern and police have the power to carry out compulsory tests on drivers suspected of being impaired by drugs, whether illegal or prescribed.
"Too many lives continue to be lost because people are blatantly ignoring the messages or are making the decision that they are safe to drive," says Acting Road Policing Manager Inspector Kevin Taylor. "No police officer wants to be knocking on a door to tell a family that someone they love won’t be making it home this Christmas. We will have staff working around the clock during the holidays to remind people of the risks and crackdown on those willing to flout the laws. You can help us and help save lives by reporting people you know are putting themselves and others at risk."
To stay safe this Christmas:
- The simplest message is if you drink or have taken drugs - DON'T DRIVE.
- Remember that one person's limit is not another's. On different days at different times, depending on tiredness, stress levels, nutrition and other factors, a limit will change. The only safe option is not to drive.
- You may still be over the limit the next day – consider taking alternative transport or asking a friend to drive you.
- If in any doubt at all about being legal and safe to drive, don’t take the risk.
- The alcohol limit for drivers aged 20 and over (the adult limit) lowered from 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath to 250mcg on 1 December, 2014.
- Infringement penalties and 50 demerit points for drivers are the consequences for anyone between 251-400mcg of breath. Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years receive a three month driver licence suspension.
- For under 20 drivers the limit is zero
- If you are stopped on the road by police you should expect to be breath-tested.
- If you are going out and want to drink arrange to stay over, or have responsible transport organised. Nominated sober drivers, taxis, public transport, dial-a-driver, are all options available.
- If your nominated sober driver drinks alcohol make alternative transport arrangements. Never get into a vehicle when you know the driver has been drinking.Families, friends and whānau need to step up and play their part. Stop a mate from driving drunk and be a legend.
- If you know someone who is driving under the influence of drink or drugs call the police or the anonymous crime line Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
- For a first drink driving offence you can receive up to 3 months imprisonment, a $4,500 fine and a minimum of 3 months driver disqualification.
- For a third or subsequent offence you can receive up to 2 years imprisonment, a $6,000 fine and a minimum of one year driver disqualification. If the three or more occasions have been within 5 years and a reading of more than 1,000 you face indefinite disqualification.
- The court can order forfeiture of your vehicle.
- If you cause a crash while driving under the influence of drink or drugs there are a range of more serious charges that you will face, especially if you injure or kill someone.
General road safety advice if you are taking a trip over the holidays:
- Have your car serviced or at least do some basic maintenance checks - oil, water, wiper blades and tyres. Most tyre companies will provide pressure checks, top-us and puncture repairs for free.
- Map out your route.
- Check the weather and anticipated road conditions.
- Have a full tank of fuel and on a long trip work out in advance where you intend to re-fuel. Remember not all service stations are open 24hrs.
- Don't just re-fuel your vehicle. Take regular rest breaks. New Zealand has a great cafe coffee culture so make the most of it. Keep bottled water in the vehicle to ensure you stay hydrated.
- Make sure there is plenty to keep children occupied. Bored and restless children are a distraction and can stress a driver.
- Keep an emergency pack to hand with water, snacks, warm clothing and a first aid kit in case or a breakdown. If you have a mobile phone make sure it is fully charged for an emergency but remember it is now against the law to use it while driving.
This advice forms part of the 12 Crime of Christmas campaign by Central District Police who wish you a very merry and safe Christmas and New Year.
Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 027 234 8256.