Programme a life changer

None for the road

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 08:03 06/12/2012

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A New Plymouth recidivist drink-driver says the One for the Road programme was instrumental in changing his ways.

The 60-year-old, who has four convictions for drink-driving in the past 10 years, agreed to talk to the Taranaki Daily News on condition he remained anonymous.

He received his fourth conviction in May after taking one risk too many.

"I was actually sitting waiting for a taxi for about half an hour and I could see my car and I thought 'stuff it' I'll take a chance and I did and I drove straight into a checkpoint."

Knowing he was facing a stint behind bars, he self-referred to the alcohol and drug unit at Taranaki Base Hospital, which was where he heard about the programme run by Harmony Trust.

"Basically I was doing everything I possibly could to stay out of prison, that was part of it initially but going along changed my mind about it and it was very beneficial."

Meeting Tamati Paul, who had his life shattered by a drink-driver in 1998, was a huge eye opener, he said.

The Paul family car was slammed into by a drink-driver, more than three times the legal limit, and travelling at 165kmh.

The impact broke most of the bones in Mr Paul's body, he was trapped in the mangled wreckage for 90 minutes and only given a 50/50 chance of survival.

"I found it quite frightening to think it could have been me driving the car that hit him. You just don't see past the fact that it's possible you could actually hurt somebody - it just hit home."

He said he found the environment created in the programme to be supportive and allowed people to open up.

He believed it would be beneficial to others.

"I think it would because it's a small group and it's more hard-hitting and it just makes you think a little bit more.

"It was quite a well balanced group and that helped as well."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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