Weekend blitz nets 5 drink-drivers

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012

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A weekend blitz in Southland on alcohol-related crimes including drink-driving netted five drivers over the legal alcohol limit, a number police say is still too high.

Operation Unite, a co-ordinated policing operation conducted across Australia and New Zealand, focused on alcohol misuse, violence and antisocial behaviour.

Southland road policing manager Senior Sergeant John Pine said police wanted zero charges.

"We are disappointed with five drink-drivers and want that figure to drop to zero," he said.

During the festive season, police would be out in force conducting breath checks, Mr Pine said.

Operation Unite also resulted in five arrests for public disorder and intoxication in Southland, he said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Justice figures show Southland drink-drivers do not appear to be getting the message - with the number of drivers convicted for drink-driving after a previous conviction increasing.

Between January and June this year, 214 people were convicted in the Invercargill court cluster (Invercargill and Gore district courts) for drink-driving after a previous conviction for a similar offence.

Last year, there 315 convictions, and in 2010, 276 people were convicted after a previous drink-driving charge.

The trend is similar for the total number of people convicted for drink-driving.

From January to June this year, there were 368 convictions, with a total of 643 convictions last year and 596 in 2010.

Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said the increase in the number of drink-drivers could be down to the extra man-hours southern police were dedicating to target drink-drivers.

"There have certainly been more operations during the past 12 to 18 months to target drink-drivers," he said.

Mr Todd said recidivist drink-drivers were particularly targeted.

"There is intelligence work done and staff are tasked to identify drivers with previous convictions," he said.

It was disappointing Southland's conviction numbers were not decreasing but it meant those who were breaking the law were being taken off the road, Mr Todd said.

The Ministry of Justice figures show the highest alcohol level recorded in Southland between January and June this year was 1623mcg.

The reading was very high but the average reading for the southern region was much lower, Mr Todd said

In the lead-up to Christmas, police would continue to target drink-drivers across the district.

"At this time of year we want to especially remind employers to be more proactive around work parties," Mr Todd said.

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Supplying transport home and providing food with any alcohol were ways to reduce the chance of staff breaking the law, he said.

Queenstown and Otago figures show the number of convictions for repeat drink-drivers and total drink-driving convictions were steady in 2010 and 2011, and were on target for similar results this year.

- The Southland Times

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