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Police crackdown on drink driving

There’ll soon be ramped-up enforcement of drink-driving and alcohol licence laws in Wairarapa, with a police operation that’s focused on cracking down on dangerous drivers scheduled to start next month.

Road policing manager and senior sergeant Brad Allen said that the Wellington district, which includes Wairarapa, will carry out this operation using a Road Policing Team [RPT] and an Impairment Prevention Team [IPT].

The operation is due to start in Wairarapa on Monday, June 24.

“This is also a joint initiative with the local councils and New Zealand Transport Agency and will run for three months,” Allen said.

“This involves our IPT and RPT teams and also our Public Safety Teams [PST].

“We will be connecting with high-risk establishments in the area to ensure the licenced premises are looking after their patrons.

“We will also continue with checkpoints and random vehicle stops, focusing on restraints, impairment, distraction, and speed.”

Wairarapa Acting Area Commander Richard Wilson said he makes no apologies for his staff targeting drunk drivers because “they harm innocent people on our roads”.

Wilson said that Wairarapa will see an increase in booze bus setups, with checkpoints in the main towns and rural areas.

“We will be at places like rugby club rooms or further remote areas where there are pubs and bars; basically, anywhere people might drive to and then congregate to drink,” he said.

“In rural communities that have pubs without the ease of public transport, people tend to elect to drive, which is a concern.

“Our message is either catch the courtesy bus if they’ve got one or phone a family member or friend.”

Wilson said that the main danger for rural areas like Wairarapa is the fact that roads are narrower and not as well-lit as metro areas, in addition to the higher speeds on those roads.

In addition to alcohol enforcement, police will also be taking the opportunity to catch people who are driving under the influence of other drugs.

Data from police showed that last year there were 332 drunk driving offences in the region, which made up 1.23 per cent of offences nationwide – despite Wairarapa making up only 0.88 per cent of the national population.

Wairarapa Police area prevention manager Senior Sergeant Gill Flower has previously told the Times-Age that the higher number of alcohol-related driving offences is related to the rural nature of the region.

“There is definitely a trend that people don’t think they will get caught so they do it,” Flower said.

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Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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