Drink driving shows no signs of slowing in Wanaka

Wanaka traffic. Photo: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun

The first phase of Wanaka Police’s Operation Lift, targeting drink drivers in Wanaka, revealed more than ten percent of drivers tested were over the limit.

More than 500 vehicles were stopped in the operation’s first weekend on Saturday August 26, with five of 47 breath screening tests showing excess breath alcohol.

The operation’s second weekend (Friday September 1 to Saturday September 2) found no drink drivers on the roads.

Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell said that drink driving was a focus for Wanaka Police due to the high numbers of offenders being apprehended.

Operation Lift would inform research on the background of drivers so that police could look at the big picture in preventing drink driving, he said.

“Once we have this information we should be able to use a number of strategies to reduce this type of offending, with our mission to make our roads in Wanaka considerably safer,” Sergeant Grindell said.

Help was brought in for the first weekend of the operation in the form of extra policing staff from Queenstown, Cromwell and Alexandra forming an increase in checkpoints and breath tests.

Sergeant Grindell said it was likely that extra policing staff would be back again to assist the operation at an unspecified point in the future.

Figures provided to the Wanaka Sun by national manager for road policing, Superintendent Steve Greally, show that drink driving infringements and offences processed by Wanaka Police are down from 93 in 2015/16 to 89 in 2016/17.

The figures do, however, reveal an increase on the 78 offences recorded in 2014/15.

Early last month, Senior Constable Darren Cranfield said he was yet to write a weekly Crimeline that didn’t make mention of a drink driver being caught, and police have apprehended an average of three drink driving offenders every week since, with last weekend being the only exception.

The legal drink driving limit is 0 for drivers under 20 and 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath for drivers aged 20 and over.

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