Friday, June 30, 2023

Kerre Woodham: Our drink driving numbers are quite frankly, unacceptable

Yesterday I touched briefly on the fact that yet another study has come out showing that alcohol is considered one of the most harmful drugs and numerous studies around the world, the latest from New Zealand, show the level of harm it does to others, as well as the level of harm it does to users.

And of course more people use alcohol than they do meth, so obviously more people are going to be affected. But when you look at just a sample of drunk driving stories - this is a handful.

A 19-year-old woman's drink driving breath test was very high. Police said at the time of her arrest, another motorist had followed her when she became concerned by her driving and when the car stopped, the motorist removed the key. The woman was fined $800, sentenced to six-month supervision, disqualified from driving for 28 days, after which she must have an alcohol interlock device fitted.

A man who police described as one of the worst recidivist drink drivers in Whangārei has been sent to jail for his 13th drink driving conviction. Shailendra Kumar Deo was so drunk behind the wheel on two occasions within two days of each other that members of the public had to pull him over and call police. The court heard how he was so incapacitated that on both occasions he was unable to complete breath testing procedures.

A third story. A recidivist drink driver who killed a woman while once again driving under the influence initially blamed the fatal crash on a rabbit running onto the road.

The judge said there was only one reason why a person was killed and that was because Holley Levorsen-Persson got behind the wheel while drunk. She was sentenced to 11 months home detention for drink driving, killing a person and driving while disqualified.

So is this a health issue - an addiction issue? Should we be focusing more on the addiction centres, the rehab centres?

If you've got people who are being sentenced for drunk driving appearing on the 8th, 9th and 11th, 13th charge - then that says that's a much bigger problem than just drink driving, surely. But people need to be safe from these recidivist drink drivers.

It would be fine if the only people they killed were themselves – but once they stick that key in the ignition, they're making a choice to drive. But it's not only them that they kill. They kill innocents on the road as well.

Is it a failure in policing issue?

Certainly Naila Hassan, who spoke to Mike Hosking this morning, from the police, inferred that if police were dealing with so many mental health issues and family harm issues, then perhaps they'd have a better chance of meeting their target.

But again, a lot of the mental health issues are around alcohol. A lot of the family harm issues have alcohol in them as well. Are we doing this wrong?

I mean, according to the AA and according to a crash investigator the checkpoints work. The police had a target of 3 million drivers being breath tested for a reason. Because they too believe it works.

They haven't met that target because they're doing the job of social workers and mental health workers. So is it more police? Is it trying to get the focus back onto road policing?

Getting those checkpoints up, keep making them visible? Or is it a health issue that we should be dealing with?

Either way – it’s unacceptable. 111 drunk driving deaths in 2022. I don't know how many of them were innocents and how many got what they quite frankly deserved, but I'd love to hear from you.

Kerre McIvor, is a journalist, radio presenter, author and columnist. Currently hosts the Kerre Woodham mornings show on Newstalk ZB

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Woodham.

What a "wonderful article, on a problem that has long plagued NZ".

Now just a historical reminder, if I may?

Successive Govts have approached this problem from many different "fronts" and if you "look at who, outside the Beehive has assisted (which most NZder's would call them the socialist wowser group[s]) to either limit advertising, the location of a Bottle Shop, and sponsorship by Breweries (which in the past used to help sports clubs with funding).

Then someone hand the 'bright idea', why not get the Police to run -

[1]- the Highway Patrol's an element that ran successfully for many years (former Ministry of Transport), do you recall seeing ä black & white parked on the side of the road, that had the ability "to scare the bejesus out of people", then the Police got hold of the function and one asks where are the Highway Patrol today?;
[2] - "booze Buses" - those "lovely apparitions, that appeared at the side of the road, at night, with more Police managing the road cones, in an attempt to nab those drivers who might be DUI". They had an effect, but do
we see them now, NO.

You rightly comment on recidivist DUI drivers, and the Court's approach to sentencing - which I am sure a Learned Judge would cite the current Laws as being the issue.

I am not sure how we deal with the issues of [1] - DUI, [2] -people's poor approach to alcohol consumption (and it is not just car driver's), go to any City Centre on a Thursday to Saturday night and watch the citizen's of NZ at Pub's & Clubs, particularly late at night.

Your focus, for the article was on DUI, but what about the incidents of family violence, instigated by alcohol?

ANON, resident of New Zealand.