Christmas: if you drink, don't drive
Title: On the 12th day of Christmas . . . if you drink, don't drive - it ruins lives
Most of us will be having a Christmas tipple or two over the holidays but how many will then get in the car and drive?
Drink driving continues to be a serious problem throughout New Zealand and is the second biggest contributing factor to road crashes. Drug driving is also a growing concern and as a result of changes to legislation in November police now have the powers to carry out compulsory tests on drivers suspected of being impaired by drugs, whether illegal or prescribed.
"Too many lives continue to be lost because people are blatantly ignoring the messages or are making the decision that they are safe to drive," says Road Policing Manager Inspector Neil Wynne. "We have seen some shocking examples just in recent weeks with 11 people found drink driving in just a few hours in Palmerston North, and one case currently going through court where the woman registered 1263 - more than three times the legal limit! What will it take for people to sit up and smell the coffee?
"We don't want there to be spaces at the dinner table this Christmas because someone hasn't reached their destination safely, and we will be working flat out during the holidays to remind people of the risks and crackdown on those willing to flout the laws. You can help us by reporting people you know are putting themselves and others at risk."
To stay safe this Christmas: • The simplest message is if you drink or have taken drugs - DON'T DRIVE.
• Remember that one person's limit is not another's. On different days at different times, depending on tiredness, stress levels, nutrition and other factors, a limit will change. There are also different legal limits for people under 20 and those over 20. The only safe option is not to drive.
• If you are going out and want to drink arrange to stay over, or have responsible transport organised. Nominated sober drivers, taxis, public transport, dial-a-driver, are all options available.
• If your nominated sober driver drinks alcohol make alternative transport arrangements. Never get into a vehicle when you know the driver has been drinking.
• If you know someone who is driving under the influence of drink or drugs call the police or the anonymous crime line Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
The penalties: • For a first offence you can receive up to 3 months imprisonment, a $4,500 fine and a minimum of 3 months driver disqualification.
• For a third or subsequent offence you can receive up to 2 years imprisonment, a $6,000 fine and a minimum of one year driver disqualification. If the three or more occasions have been within 5 years and a reading of more than 1,000 you face indefinite disqualification.
• The court can order forfeiture of your vehicle.
• If you cause a crash while driving under the influence of drink or drugs there are a range of more serious charges that you will face, especially if you injure or kill someone. This year Central District has successfully prosecuted two drivers for manslaughter.
General road safety advice if you are taking a trip over the holidays: • Have your car serviced or at least do some basic maintenance checks - oil, water, wiper blades and tyres. Most tyre companies will provide pressure checks, top-us and puncture repairs for free.
• Map out your route.
• Check the weather and anticipated road conditions.
• Have a full tank of fuel and on a long trip work out in advance where you intend to re-fuel. Remember not all service stations are open 24hrs.
• Don't just re-fuel your vehicle. Take regular rest breaks. New Zealand has a great cafe coffee culture so make the most of it. Keep bottled water in the vehicle to ensure you stay hydrated.
• Make sure there is plenty to keep children occupied. Bored and restless children are a distraction and can stress a driver.
• Keep an emergency pack to hand with water, snacks, warm clothing and a first aid kit in case or a breakdown. If you have a mobile phone make sure it is fully charged for an emergency but remember it is now against the law to use it while driving.
This advice forms part of the 12 Crime of Christmas campaign by Central District Police who wish you a very merry and safe Christmas and New Year.