Passenger charged after letting drunk mate drive
Allowing a drunk, drugged or disqualified driver to drive your vehicle will result in serious charges, say Canterbury police, who have vowed to come down hard on the problem.
Police are taking the hard-line stance after the friend of a teenager killed in a crash in Rangiora six months ago was charged in relation to the incident - even though he was a passenger in the car.
Canterbury road policing manager Inspector Al Stewart said a 22-year-old Christchurch man would appear in Christchurch District Court on December 12 charged with aiding and abetting someone driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Stewart said the charge stemmed from a fatal crash on May 25. Tarrin Kayne Alderson, 18, of Rangiora, was driving when the vehicle apparently veered left on to a grass shoulder, over-corrected, and went into a spin, hitting a concrete power pole in Flaxton Rd about 1.45am.
"The owner of the vehicle, who was allegedly aware the driver was drunk, was a passenger," Stewart said.
Alderson died from his injuries.
Only the 22-year-old man was wearing a seatbelt, which police said saved his life.
Stewart said many vehicle owners were not aware they were criminally liable for allowing drunk drivers to use their cars. "This is serious stuff. If you knowingly allow a person who is incapable of having proper control of your vehicle to take it out on the roads and place all other road users in danger, you are as liable as the driver," he said.
"Investigations into serious and fatal crashes [are] showing us that in a lot of cases the owner of vehicles - family members, friends, workmates or associates - are aware that a driver . . . was incapable, but failed to do anything to stop it, or worse, facilitated the driver into the vehicle. This is just unacceptable."
Passengers found to have incited or encouraged drivers to flee from police would also be charged, Stewart said.
In September, three passengers in a vehicle that failed to stop for police were convicted of aiding and abetting and were given sentences of three months' disqualification and 80 hours of community work, he said.
"We will look at the actions of all passengers in a vehicle."
Alderson's boss, Simon Thelning, was surprised by news of the charges brought against the passenger.
"[He] has suffered enough, losing his mate and being not too well himself either," he said.
Alderson's mother, Traci Ellis, said charging the 22-year-old was "not going to change anything".
"I only have one question - why was Kayne driving his car? I don't think I'm ever going to get an answer to that," she said.
"I just want lessons learnt from it."
She said she knew her son had alcohol in his system at the time of the crash and was driving on a learner's licence.
Stewart said car owners convicted of allowing drunk, drugged or disqualified drivers to use their vehicle could face maximum penalties of a $4500 fine, three months' imprisonment and six months disqualification from driving.
- The Press