Repeat boozy drivers facing puff 'n go

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013

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Taranaki's repeat drink-drivers are being hit with hard-line zero alcohol constraints which require them to have breathalyser devices installed in their cars if they want to drive.

The law change aimed at cracking down even harder on the country's recidivist drink-drivers was introduced on September 10.

In the past two days in the New Plymouth District Court, four of Taranaki's recidivist drink-driving offenders have qualified for a zero alcohol licence.

All have accumulated multiple drink-driving offences within the past five years.

Judge Allan Roberts said to one such offender that he would jail repeat offenders who had earlier been given final warnings.

"I will have sentenced 20 people in the last two days, a quarter of those are for repeat drinking-driving which gives an idea of the problem locally.

"The message must and will be a consistent one," Judge Roberts said.

Along with the possibility of having their cars confiscated, the additional crackdown means the offenders now face driving without any alcohol passing their lips after their disqualification time elapses.

For the zero alcohol licence to become viable, the offender is told by the judge that they are suspended from driving for an additional three years following the end of their licence disqualification period - unless they apply for and are given the zero alcohol licence.

An interlocker device, effectively a breathalyser, is fitted to their car which requires the driver to breathe into it to prove they have not been drinking any alcohol before they can start their car.

The cost of the zero alcohol licence and fitting of the device - from $2382.80 to $2742.80 - is not cheap.

The offender must first apply for an alcohol interlock licence (similar to the normal driver's licence but coloured pink) at the cost of $200, pay to have the device installed (between $150 to $175), pay the monthly rental fee ($150 to $175 a month for 12 months - $1800 to $2100) and pay to have it removed.

However, if the offender has a community services card the offender could be eligible for a discount or financial assistance.

- David William Watemburg, 29, who had three drink-driving convictions in three years was jailed for three months. He was stopped on Leach St on October 25 when he blew 772mcg, nearly twice the legal limit of 400mcg.

- Wiremu Charles Shute, who was subject to a final warning for repeat drink-driving, was stopped on Huatoki St at 6.15pm on October 4, blowing 855mcg. Shute was ordered to attend drug and alcohol counselling, and disqualified for 12 months to be followed by a zero alcohol licence.

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- A Taranaki District Health Board orderly Michael William Macdonald, 59, was jailed for three months for his fifth drink-driving conviction on October 24 when he blew 646mcg.

- Joshua Ryan Quinn, 21, was similarly jailed for three months after blowing 790mcg on October 13. He also admitted having an offensive weapon, a knife, on his lap. He was disqualified from driving for 14 months and given a zero alcohol licence order.

- Taranaki Daily News

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