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Masterton hot spot for drink driving

PHOTO/FILE

One death, one too many

ALEYNA MARTINEZ
[email protected]

Police data shows more breath alcohol driving offences being picked up during the holiday season in Wairarapa in the past three years but this could be due to police having almost doubled the number of checkpoints.

Wairarapa area prevention manager Acting Senior Sergeant Shayne Nolan told the Times-Age on Tuesday that there were now 80 per cent more checkpoints in the region than there were three years ago.

According to the data police provided under an Official Information Act request, there were 57 people who failed breath-alcohol tests from November to January of 2017-18 [Carterton 12, Featherston one, Greytown three, Martinborough four, and Masterton 37].

In the same period in 2018-19, there were 80 failed tests [Carterton five, Featherston 10, Greytown four, Martinborough five, Masterton 56].

For 2019, provisional police data for the holiday period covered only November and December in which there were 52 failed tests [Carterton two, Featherston three, Greytown one, Martinborough none and Masterton 46].

The data only included excess breath alcohol driving offences and did not include excess blood alcohol driving offences which might result from a failed breath screening test.

Official figures were unavailable for January 2020, but there were indications there had been a slight increase in positive readings over the past month.

Nolan said police had increased the number of checkpoints because he considered that “even one death was one too many”.

Fatal road crashes took a toll on police officers and they affected everyone from the emergency response team to the victim’s family and even his own.

For Nolan, one of the worst crashes he attended was in 2017. It involved a young American couple who were visiting Wairarapa on their honeymoon.

“I had to break the news to a newly-wed wife whose husband had been killed not far from where they were staying”, and after speaking to her, it became apparent “alcohol was a factor”.

He said it was police policy for staff to undergo counselling after attending crashes.

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