Too many Waikato and Bay of Plenty drivers are getting behind the wheel drunk or in breach of their graduated driver's licences according to Police following a combined operation over the weekend.
Officer in charge of Operation Jackson, Sergeant Grant Houston of the Waikato Traffic Alcohol Group, said about 40 staff carried out an alcohol focused operation on Friday and Saturday nights.
"On Friday night Waikato staff travelled over to Taupo and Tauranga while on Saturday night Bay of Plenty officers came over to conduct a number of alcohol checkpoints in and around Hamilton.
"Disappointingly, despite officers setting up their checkpoints during daylight hours as a deterrent, of the 5140 drivers stopped 45 are now facing court action or awaiting the results of blood tests for excess breath or blood alcohol."
Mr Houston said eight drivers had their licences suspended for returning breath alcohol results over 650mgms, the legal alcohol limit for a fully licensed driver is 400mgms.
"Operation Jackson is a prevention based activity conducted at the beginning of each summer designed to saturate areas with a highly visible policing presence to encourage the anti-drink driving message.
"When you consider we stopped over 5000 drivers, if they tell 10 friends and they tell 10 friends then the message the Police can be out there, any where and at any time tarts sinking in. Unfortunately the 45 drivers in question either didn't get the message or chose to ignore it."
Another concerning trend for Police is young or inexperienced drivers ignoring the restrictions of their graduated driver's licences.
"The night before the operation began we saw a disqualified learner driver die in a high speed crash on Old Taupiri Rd that left four people injured, one of them critically.
"During the course of Friday and Saturday nights several young drivers were found out driving after 10pm, often carrying passengers. The restrictions of graduated drivers licences are in place to help vulnerable drivers gain experience on the roads and if they are found breaching them they can expect the Police to take action."
Friday 16 November
1589 CBT (Compulsory Breath Tests) 364 CBT
12 EBA (Excess Breath Alcohol, drunk drivers) 6 EBA
2 Blood tests 2 Blood Tests
4 Licence Suspensions 4 Licence Suspensions
2 K9 (arrest) 1K9
The heavy police presence in Taupo on the Friday night kept the town relatively quiet.
Saturday 17th November
Blood Tests 5
Licence Suspensions 9
CIT 1 (Drug Test)
K9 (Arrest) 3 (1 possession of Cannabis, 1 resisting arrest, 1 theft of a police sniffer!)
Totals for the 2 nights
Blood Tests 9
Licence suspensions 17
Although the weather could have put a dampener on proceedings the evening turned out to be fairly productive.
Mr Houston said it was sad to see such a high number of drunk drivers, including one 17 year old female that blew 767mgm (legal alcohol limit for under 20 is zero). There were also eight other drivers that blew in excess of 650mgm and had their drivers licences suspended as a result.
One male was arrested for theft of a 'sniffer' breath testing device when he decided to walk off the booze bus with it in his pocket. An Officer realised what had happened but when she confronted the thief he denied taking it. He was shown a set of car keys and in particular the alarm fob.
He was told that all Police sniffers are alarmed and if the button was pressed the alarm would sound and show the location of the lost device. He then sheepishly pulled the sniffer from his pocket and was arrested.