Waikato third highest for teen drink-drivers
AMY MAAS AND STEVE KILGALLON
The Waikato has one of the worst records for under-20s drink-driving convictions, while the district is home to nearly 800 convicted in the past two years.
In the Waikato, 793 drivers under the age of 20 have been convicted in the past two years, according to figures released under the Official Information Act.
Auckland teenagers were the worst, with 1553 convicted, followed by Christchurch teenagers with 1383.
Waikato teens sit in third place with 793, followed by 728 Wellingtonians.
Fifteen New Zealand teenagers have been convicted of drink-driving for the sixth or more time over the last two years and figures show one in the Waikato has more than five convictions.
In Auckland, two teens were convicted on their fifth or more charge, while Christchurch and Nelson each had three under-20 drink-drivers who had more than five convictions. If a teenager is convicted of a drink-driving offence, they risk being disqualified from driving, receiving 50 demerit points and either a fine or prison if they are caught with more than 30 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 150 micrograms per litre of breath.
In Hamilton District Court last week Judge Merelina Burnett convicted a 20-year-old on his seventh drink-driving offence.
Jesse Michael Tudor appeared on two charges of wilful damage, driving while disqualified, dangerous driving and threatening to kill.
Tudor denied all but the wilful damage charge.
Remanding Tudor on bail until January, Judge Burnett said seven drink-driving convictions for a 20-year old ". . . has to be some sort of record".
Meanwhile, government lobbying during the past five years by the clinical director of Waikato Hospital's emergency department, Dr John Bonning, has led to a ministerial request for police to find a better system of testing because too many drink-drivers find ways of avoiding prosecution.
Dr Bonning said the current system was archaic and required a doctor's name or signature 17 times on every form, which had 12 sub-clauses. Any mistakes in paperwork could result in charges being dismissed.
The process took doctors about 20 minutes, but was a 45-minute procedure for police.
Dr Bonning said there were 50 different technicalities for drivers to escape charges and that New Zealand should adopt the Australian test, which was just one small form requiring three signatures.
Police Minister Anne Tolley said she had told the police to take a "clean sheet" and devise a new, faster system that could not be beaten by specialist drink-drive lawyers. "We don't want a simplified process that allows even more drunk drivers to get off."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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