Blitz nets hundreds of drivers

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014
Southland Times photo
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

Acting Senior Sergeant Geoff Sutherland, of Southern Highway Patrol, says too many Southland drivers are behind the wheel when they should not be or are driving cars without a warrant or registration.

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Poll: A police blitz in Southland has resulted in hundreds of fines, with nearly 30 cars impounded, including two that the police had to chase down.

The blitz also led to seven drink-driving arrests, one drug-driver arrest and three arrests for non-driving matters.

And more than a dozen vehicles were ordered off the road for being unsafe.

The results from the weekend's Operation Cleansweep, in which about 3000 vehicles were stopped, have left police "blown away".

Twenty-two additional police officers were out in force between Gore and Invercargill from Friday to Sunday.

Acting Senior Sergeant Geoff Sutherland, of Southern Highway Patrol, said the focus was on vehicles that were not roadworthy, modified "boy-racer type" cars, and driver-licence offences.

Nearly 500 traffic infringement notices were issued and 28 cars were impounded - 21 because the drivers were disqualified or suspended from driving, five because the owners owed outstanding fines, and two because the drivers failed to stop and led police on a pursuit.

Another 15 cars were ordered off the road because they failed safety inspections or had illegal modifications, he said.

"On one car, all four tyres were so bald the steel radial belts were exposed," he said.

"Some vehicles were leaking brake fluid and others had no brake fluid."

Illegal modifications were also found on many vehicles, including four-wheel-drives.

Other vehicles had not had a warrant of fitness or been registered for nearly five years.

Many of the unwarranted drivers would have no idea if anything serious was wrong with their vehicle, Mr Sutherland said.

Invercargill had a high rate of people driving unwarranted and unregistered vehicles, he said.

"Drivers of unsafe vehicles put their own lives and the lives of others at risk."

The Invercargill District Court would deal with many of the offenders this week.

"Police were blown away by the number of offences and the number of drivers breaking court orders," Mr Sutherland said.

People who had their right to drive taken away through the courts or having excess demerit points appeared to believe they could flout the rules, he said.

The daylight operation had proved successful, with previous operations having been done at night, Mr Sutherland said.

"I think we surprised many drivers by being out during the day."

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