Breathalysers in cars on the way
After seven vodka mixers, disqualified repeat drink-driver Sivo Kerr got behind the wheel of a car and killed a teenager.
Now the Government is hoping a move to install breathalysers in cars will prevent such tragedies.
Kerr hit 17-year-old Sanele Pauli at more than 70kmh, on a 50kmh stretch of Great North Rd in Auckland's Pt Chevalier, on Rugby World Cup final night. Pauli and his two younger brothers had just got off a bus when he was hit. He died at the scene before his mother or father could get there.
Kerr, 38, had been disqualified two months earlier after another drink-driving offence - and he is not alone.
In Tauranga, recidivist drink-driver Hardeep Singh Pannu has pleaded guilty to blowing 1688 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, and 1429 micrograms on another occasion - levels police say could have killed him.
Automobile Association 2010-11 figures show police laid 32,603 drink-driving charges - 6702 against drivers for at least the third time, the hardcore repeat offenders.
And 2010 data shows for every 100 alcohol or drug-impaired drivers killed, 54 passengers and 23 sober road users died. One in four drivers who died was over the limit.
This week Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges will reveal dates for new measures to stop the carnage - two new sentencing options.
One is an alcohol interlock in cars to act as a breathalyser. It stops the car starting if there is alcohol in a person's system. The other allows judges to impose zero-alcohol sentences on offenders.
The Automobile Association says the moves are important in changing the behaviour of repeat drink-drivers, who shouldn't be recycling into the community.
“There's a group of hardcore offenders who are a real risk to everyone,” spokesman Dylan Thomsen said.
“People who drive disqualified or without a licence are already showing they don't respect the rules, so they're more likely to drive drunk and take risks that put lives in danger.”
Kerr will undergo rehabilitation during a 37-month sentence, but his actions have had a lasting impact on his teenage victim's family.
Mum Taaveo Pauli said she and her family spend nights at his grave.
“The way he died, it shouldn't be like that. You can see on that road from a far distance, and there are lights. I have no idea how he couldn't see my son.”
The family declined to be part of a restorative justice programme with Kerr.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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