Drink-drivers to face justice panel

20:28, Jun 02 2014

Recidivist drink-drivers in Eastern Southland will soon have to front up to a new panel determined to curb their behaviour.

Gore Community Probation and Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust are developing a restorative justice panel.

The panel will meet with offenders who are before the court charged with their third or subsequent offence for driving with excess breath alcohol.

The panel will include volunteers from St John, the fire service and police, a victim of drink-driving, a former offender and a restorative justice member.

Gore Community Probation service manager Anna Hawkes said the panel was not designed to punish offenders but to get across the message that drink-driving was not OK.

It would also provide a bigger picture around the serious impacts their offending could have.

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Drink-driving was not a big problem in Gore but it did happen, she said.

Figures supplied by the Ministry of Justice show 597 people were convicted in the Gore District Court of drink-driving between 2008 and last year. Of those, 109 were convicted in the 2012-13 year.

The highest breath alcohol level recorded in Gore in the past five years was 1564mcg.

When a person charged with a third or subsequent excess breath alcohol appears before the Gore District Court and a pre-sentence report is ordered, probation will then discuss with the offender a referral to the panel.

If the panel is successful, it is hoped the initiative could expand to other southern areas. It is hoped to be launched on June 18.

The Southland Times