10 caught over the limit

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013

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Police will be looking at "prevention tactics" to curb drink driving at next year's Devonport Food, Wine and Music Festival after several drivers blew over the legal limit.

North Shore police area commander Inspector Les Paterson says he believes it is the highest number of drink drivers caught at the event since it began 24 years ago.

But festival organiser Gavin Busch says there is little more they can do to discourage drink driving other than methods in place.

While the level of disorder was down on previous years, Mr Paterson says 10 drivers aged between 23 and 52 were caught as they left the festival.

They each blew on average 40 per cent more than the legal limit, he says.

"More than half of those apprehended were locals, most within reasonable walking distance so it seems to defy all logic that they took such a risk. Mind you logic is usually an early casualty of alcohol."

To avoid a repeat, Mr Paterson says prevention tactics may be employed in future.

Since 1989 the festival has steadily grown and now attracts up to 12,000 punters over the two days.

Mr Busch says much thought has gone into promoting responsible drinking at the festival.

"We have an arrangement with a taxi service so there are plenty available right outside the gates, driver tickets are available entitling sober drivers to free non-alcoholic drinks and we put adverts in the festival programmes advising people to drink responsibly.

"Apart from leading a horse to water there is little else we can do."

Although yet to hear a police debrief, Mr Busch says he believed they were happy with how the event ran and there were no arrests or evictions.

"If people are foolish enough to think they can go to an event, be it our festival, a rugby game or concert, have too much to drink and then drive without getting caught then it's on them, not us."

He says there is no proving those caught drink driving were from the festival.

Another music event, Sounds of Summer, attracted thousands to the Masonic Tavern less than a kilometre away on February 16.

"We have had no negative feedback and the vast majority of people had a great time," Mr Busch says.

"Police would probably get that number at a checkpoint in Devonport on any given weekend."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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