Buying driver drink could be offence

A tough police stance on people facilitating others to drive drunk could extend as far as someone buying them an alcoholic drink, a Christchurch lawyer says.

However, a successful prosecution would depend on proving the person had done so with the knowledge a crime would be committed, the head of Canterbury University Law School, Dr Chris Gallavin, said.

Canterbury police have vowed to take a tough stance on vehicle owners who allow drunk, drugged or disqualified drivers to use their vehicles. They say they will consider prosecuting them as well.

If convicted of aiding and abetting the crime, the registered car owner could face maximum penalties of a $4500 fine, three months imprisonment and six months disqualification from driving.

Gallavin said it was "entirely legitimate" for police to do it, but he did not expect a "flood" of prosecutions.

"They have to show they had the knowledge of a crime being committed," he said.

"More often than not, they are able to get the driver so they wouldn't have bothered with the owner or the passenger."

Gallavin said someone could be seen as facilitating drink-driving by giving the person the car keys, or even buying them alcoholic drinks.

However, it could be problematic in a domestic situation where one in the couple is the registered owner but the other commits the offence.

"It will probably come down to police discretion," Gallavin said.

Canterbury police have charged five people with aiding and abetting after allowing a drunk or drugged person to drive their vehicle in the last year.

This includes a 22-year-old Christchurch man charged in relation to a fatal crash in Rangiora six months ago - even though he was the passenger in the car.

The 22-year-old is to appear in court on December 12 charged with aiding and abetting someone driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was the owner of the vehicle and was allegedly aware the driver, Tarrin Kayne Alderson, 18, was drunk. Alderson died from injuries sustained in the crash.

The Press