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Starting in September 2010 I accompanied the Auckland Metropolitan Traffic Alcohol Group (TAG) on their Compulsory Breath Testing (CBT) operations using ‘booze buses’ in the Auckland area. I went out on 11 shifts for a total of 88 hours. I was able to observe the police at work and to speak to those drivers who were stopped and suspected of driving with Excess Breath/Blood Alcohol (EBA). This paper contains my observations on the procedures involved in CBT operations, and interviews with those suspected of driving with EBA.
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Compulsory Breath Testing in New
Zealand and Interviews with Drink
Gerald Waters 2012
Reducing Impaired Driving in New Zealand
Glossary of abbreviations…………………………………………………3
Part 1
Impaired driving in New Zealand………………………………………...5
Compulsory breath testing……………………………………………..…8
Amendments to the Land Transport Act……………………………,…19
Part 2
Interviews with suspected drink drivers………………………………...23
Starting in September 2010 I accompanied the Auckland Metropolitan Traffic Alcohol Group
(TAG) on their Compulsory Breath Testing (CBT) operations using ‘booze buses’ in the Auckland
area. I went out on 11 shifts for a total of 88 hours. I was able to observe the police at work and to
speak to those drivers who were stopped and suspected of driving with Excess Breath/Blood Alcohol
This paper contains my observations on the procedures involved in CBT operations, and interviews
with those suspected of driving with EBA.
The TAG perform their duties with professionalism and enthusiasm to protect us all from impaired
drivers in New Zealand. They are to be commended for their hard work and the tough and
sometimes dangerous conditions in which their work takes place.
I would like to thank Superintendent John Kelly for allowing me the opportunity to work alongside
the police on their CBT operations and Senior Sergeant Grant Miller for his help and knowledge
while out on operations. I would also like to thank all the officers and support crew that I met with,
in particular Anton Estie whose experience and understanding of the problems of impaired driving
in NZ was of great help in the compilation of this paper.
Glossary of abbreviations
BAC…....Blood/Breath Alcohol Content
CIT….Compulsory Impairment Test
CBT………Compulsory Breath Testing
EBA1……..Evidential Breath Alcohol
EBA2…..Excess Breath Alcohol
EBT….Evidential Breath Test
MBT…….Mobile Breath Testing
NZ……………..New Zealand
RBT….Random Breath Testing
TAG……Traffic Alcohol Group
THC……… Tetrahydrocannabinol
Part I
Impaired driving in New Zealand
Drink driving has been a serious problem in New Zealand for years, with high levels of injuries and
crashes - and with alcohol-related fatalities reaching well over 300 every year by the late
1980’s.Through the 1990’s substantial progress was made in New Zealand in reducing these figures.
The introduction of Compulsory Breath Testing, or CBT, in 1993 has played a vital role in
deterrence and detection of drink driving. But since 2000 no further progress has been made and
the level of deaths and serious injuries is now higher than it was in 2000.
Deaths and serious injuries
Deaths and serious injuries in crashes with alcohol/drugs as a
contributing factor
Every year in New Zealand around 30-35,000 drivers are detected driving with Excess Breath/Blood
Alcohol (EBA).
Table 1
Number of alcohol offenders
2007 30968
2008 34272
2009 34679
Source: Ministry of Transport
The majority of these drivers are first-time detected EBA drivers. From 2005-2007, 77 % of the
drivers involved in fatal crashes involving alcohol had no previous drink-driving offences in the 5
years before the crash.
Table 2
Prior offending history
Number of prior drink-
driving offences within
prior history period
Proportion of drivers
involved in alcohol-
related fatal crashes
between 2005-2007
5 years None
Three or more
10 years None
Three or more
Lifetime None
Three or more
Source: Ministry of Transport
In 2001 it was reported that, in New Zealand, 1 in 375 crash-free drunk driving trips resulted in a
drunk-driving conviction.1
So with around 112,000 convictions in a 5 year period of first-time-
detected EBA drivers there will in all likelihood be another 112,000 first-time convictions in the
following 5 years. That’s nearly a quarter of a million new offenders over a 10 year period. These of
course are only those detected offenders. Although the number of drivers stopped at the roadside is
not recorded, Compulsory and Mobile Breath Test (CBT/MBT) stops give some indication of the
minimum number of stops initiated by Police each year. For the 2009/10 fiscal year this was
3,261,467. In May 2011 there were 3,264,378 licensed drivers in New Zealand. The number of
offences issued for drink and drugged driving in 2009/10 was 34,640. This is 1.1% of the
CBT/MBT stops. The number of repeat offenders in New Zealand reveals an upward trend.
1 Miller and Blewden, 2001.
Table 3
Year Number of recidivist offenders
2007 6639
2008 6999
2009 7206
Source: NZ Police
In 2009, alcohol-impaired driving alone contributed to 33% of fatal crashes and 21% of serious
injury crashes. Crashes involving alcohol resulted in 137 deaths, 565 serious injuries, and 1725
minor injuries at an estimated social cost of $875 million.2
2 Waters, 2011.
Compulsory Breath Testing
Hi story
On 1 April 1993 Random Breath Testing (RBT) was introduced in New Zealand. This followed
just over eight years of random stopping. To distinguish the RBT programme from the random
stopping programme it was called Compulsory Breath Testing (CBT). At the same time the legal
blood alcohol limit was lowered from .08 for drivers under 20 years of age to .03.
CBT is a key drink driving enforcement activity in New Zealand. CBT is used as a deterrent to
influence a driver’s choice to drink and drive through the threat of punishment. Well publicised
media campaigns combined with CBT are integral to the overall deterrent effect of CBT
enforcement targeted at both the general population and drink drivers.3
The Police operate CBT checkpoints at which all drivers stopped are supposed to be tested.
Checkpoints were initially car-based operations, with a target of 1.5 million drivers stopped and
tested each year. This translated to 7 in 10 licensed drivers.
In 1996 the Police started using ‘booze buses’ at their CBT checkpoints. These vehicles are used for
administering blood-alcohol tests (to suspected EBA drivers), generally a mid-size bus converted or
fitted out for this purpose. The vehicles contain Evidential Breath Analysis machines which establish
the level of alcohol in the breath of a driver. They have on-board computers for checking vehicle and
driver details, areas for processing, confidential phone booths for suspected offenders to speak to a
lawyer as well as staff areas for refreshments and a toilet.
Without the intervention of booze buses in 1996, N.Z. drink-driving crashes would have cost an
estimated $1.2 billion.4
Compulsory Breath Testing means the NZ Police try and stop every car and breath test every driver
going through a checkpoint. They don't always succeed but that's the aim. As stated earlier, as of
May 2011 there were 3,264,378 licensed drivers in New Zealand. The Police performance measure
is to conduct 2 million CBT checks every year and conduct 700,000 mobile breath tests - nearly
75% of the licensed driving population. Mobile breath tests are conducted when a driver is stopped
for a reason other than a CBT check (speed, driving fault, whatever) and is then breath tested. That
means NZ Police are supposed to produce 2,700,000 breath tests every year. As of 30 April 2011
NZ Police had conducted 1,744,672 CBT tests (well on the way to the 2 million) and 802,066
3 Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland, 2010
4 Miller, et al, 2004
MBT so were already over-delivered on their target. The NZ Police like the philosophy of breath
testing every driver they stop so it is no surprise the MBT target is exceeded.
The Police booze buses used for CBT operations come under the control of Traffic Alcohol Groups
(TAGs). New Zealand has 14 TAGs operating in all major cities; they also serve the outer rural areas
in their vicinity with a total of 18 booze buses in operation. Operations are run every day of the year.
Evidential Brea th Alcohol (EBA) a nd Bl ood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
Evidential breath alcohol (EBA) means how much alcohol is in a person’s breath and is used as an
initial guide of how much alcohol is in the blood. A breathalyser measures the amount of alcohol in
the breath and gives an EBA reading, i.e. a number, such as 400, which means 400 micrograms of
alcohol per litre of breath. A person with an EBA level of 400 has more alcohol in their breath than
someone with an EBA of 200. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) means how much alcohol is in a
person’s blood and is measured in terms of milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. A BAC
reading of 0.08 translates as 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood and is the
equivalent level of an EBA reading of 400. EBA and BAC are determined by how much a person
drinks, how long they take to drink it, how much they weigh, how long since they’ve eaten, the state
of their liver and whether they are a regular drinker. Women usually need to drink less than men to
become intoxicated because they are generally smaller and have slower metabolic rates.
CBT operations involve setting up a checkpoint on roads identified as being suitable for such
operations. There has to be a balance between deterrence and detection. Factors taken into account
Traffic flow
Areas that have safe and suitable parking facilities for detained drivers
Areas identified as commonly used by those who drink and drive
The booze bus acts as the command centre and is parked centrally to the contra flowed traffic. Either
the traffic on the side of the road where the booze bus is parked is stopped and tested or the traffic
on both sides is stopped and checked, depending on traffic flow and the number of officers available
to carry out testing. While the TAG has their own officers to carry out CBT they are often joined by
other area forces to have as many officers ‘on the line’ as is necessary.
The Pa ssive Breath Test
Approaching traffic is signalled to stop by an officer and the driver asked to speak into a ‘sniffer’
device. This device detects trace alcohol to identify in the first instance whether the driver has been
drinking at all. Those who pass the sniffer test are moved on while those that fail are signalled to pull
over to a designated safe area for further testing.
Screening Test
Next the driver is required to undergo a breath screening test; this requires the driver to blow into
the sniffer device through a tube. This testing will give a more accurate reading of the drivers level of
alcohol. A pass reading at this point allows the driver to continue his journey. Those who fail will
now be required to give another test aboard the booze bus using an evidential breath test machine.
All cars that are stopped for a further test have the vehicle registration checked against police records.
The Evidentia l Breath Test
The evidential breath test machine is an electronic device which measures conclusively the amount
of alcohol in your breath. The EBA machine requires a minimum of two breaths and produces two
readings (these being micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath), the lower of which is the driver’s
result. If the reading is over 400 micrograms per litre of breath, the driver is over the legal limit and
will be charged with EBA (excess breath alcohol). There is a zero alcohol limit for drivers under 20.
If the evidential breath test reading is 400 micrograms per litre of breath or less, the test is considered
passed and the driver will then be free to go (unless they are youth drivers). It is however possible
that the Police may still consider the driver incapable of driving and forbid them to do so for a
certain timeframe (usually 12 hours). If the officer says that the driver must not continue to drive
then the driver must comply with the officer’s direction. Even though they are under the legal limit
it is an offence to fail to comply with an officer’s direction forbidding them to drive. I witnessed
officers using their discretion with regards to a driver’s ability to drive.
The Blood Test
After the evidential breath test the driver is given the option of electing to have a blood test. They are
given 10 minutes to think about this. If the driver refuses or cannot complete an evidential breath
test they will be required to permit a blood specimen to be taken. The blood sample is taken by a
medical practitioner or a medical officer. Drivers cannot refuse a blood test, even if they are afraid of
needles or have any other excuse for not consenting to a blood test. Refusing to permit blood to be
taken is also a qualifying offence for indefinite disqualification.5 For an adult “the limit” is 80
milligrams or alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood and for drivers under 20 the limit is 0 milligrams
of alcohol per 100 milligrams of blood. If the blood test is positive, you will be required to pay a fine
which is about $200. 6
Drug Driving
The Land Transport Amendment Act 20097 created a new offence of driving while impaired and
with evidence in the bloodstream of a qualifying drug. The presence of a qualifying drug alone is not
sufficient for an offence; there must also first be impairment as demonstrated by unsatisfactory
performance of the compulsory impairment test. The Act allows Police to test for the presence of
qualifying drugs if a driver fails a compulsory impairment test. Qualifying drugs include controlled
drugs that are set out in the specified schedules in the Misuse of Drugs Act 19758. The law
also covers the family of drugs known as benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety, tranquilliser medication). A
full list of prescription medicines that are included can be found in the Medicines Regulations
In analysing the results of the blood test, Police will target the substances which pose the highest risk
for road users and which are the most likely to be used by New Zealand drivers. Drugs targeted are
likely to include opiates, amphetamines, cannabis, sedatives, antidepressants and methadone. The
list will be reviewed from time to time in the light of research, and changes in New Zealanders’ drug-
taking habits.
The law provides a defence for a person who can prove that they were using the qualifying drug in
accordance with a current prescription and instructions from the manufacturer, the doctor who
prescribed it or the pharmacist who dispensed it.
Where a Police officer has “good cause to suspect” that a driver has consumed a drug or drugs, the
officer may require the driver to take a Compulsory Impairment Test (CIT).
Grounds for having good cause to suspectinclude erratic driving or, if the driver has been stopped
for another reason, appearing to be under the influence of drugs. An example of the latter is the
5 this being disqualification for a minimum of one year one day requiring anyone caught under this to re-sit and
pass the practical driving test before they can drive again.
6 For more on the penalties involved for impaired driving visit:
person stopped at an alcohol checkpoint that is behaving in an intoxicated manner but passes a
breath alcohol test.
If the driver does not satisfactorily complete the compulsory impairment test10
Forbidding the person to drive deals with the immediate road safety risk presented by the impaired
driver. It is likely that drivers who fail the impairment test would be forbidden to drive for 12 hours
(the period of prohibition applied to a driver who is over the legal adult breath alcohol limit) but this
may vary depending on the discretion of the Police officer.
, the Police officer
may forbid the driver to drive, and require the driver to provide a blood sample.
The procedure for taking a blood sample is the same as for drink drivers who opt for a blood test.
When the blood test results are known, Police make a decision on whether or not to charge the
The compulsory test includes:
An eye assessment pupil size, reaction to light, lack of convergence, nystagmus (i.e.
abnormal eye movement - irregular eye movement can be a marker for drug impairment)
A walk and turn assessment
A one-leg stand assessment
10 Paperwork on CIT available here
When on operations with the TAG I was required by the police to wear high visibility clothing and
to at all times be in a position that would not compromise my or otherssafety or impede CBT
operations. My rules of engagement were that I was in no way to initiate conversations with those
drivers who were being dealt with by the police until the police had finished their processing and
they were free to do so. I had been out on several CBT operations prior to the start of my research,
to work out the best approach for gathering information from those drivers stopped by the police.
The only opportunity available to me was when they were waiting to be picked up by a friend or
family member, or for someone to arrive to drive them and their vehicle from the checkpoint if their
vehicle had been required to be impounded by law. I found that it was best to use my judgment as to
whether I should start a conversation but usually found that those waiting would either ask what I
was doing or ask me for a cigarette, or just want to talk to someone while they were waiting. The
weather played a part in my ability to engage drivers in conversation. If it was raining they would
wait for their lifts on the bus which was out of bounds to me, and after two shifts in the rain I
decided not to go out on any more wet weather operations.
When the opportunity arose to talk to the drivers, the conversation would get around to what I was
doing and I found that most of the drivers were willing to talk to me. I also constructed a
questionnaire with the help of CARRS-Q11
11 Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland, located at Queensland University of Technology.
. I used my initial outings with the police to refine this, as
some questions caused the drivers to be wary, or they found them confusing, or distracted the driver
from the information I was seeking. I eventually constructed a questionnaire that gathered the most
information in the shortest period of time (See Appendix 2). Initially I had the questionnaires
printed out. I thought that if I gave them to drivers with a postage-paid envelope, they could post
them back to me but I soon found that this did not work and that I was better to fill in the
questionnaires at the checkpoint. Those who completed the questionnaires were told that the
information would be used anonymously and they would in no way be identified by name. In fact, I
never asked the drivers name and only ever knew some drivers’ names when they introduced
themselves to me. On busy operations there could be up to five or more drivers awaiting transport
and this sometimes resulted in group discussions. I adopted an unbiased and non-judgmental
approach to conversations and had to adapt regularly to the moods and levels of inebriation from the
drivers I was interviewing. My reasoning was that any driver who was capable of being processed by
the police was also able to be engaged to gather information. Most of the drivers were wary of filling
in the questionnaires but would freely talk on the topics in the questionnaires. This meant that a lot
of the information I gathered was by conversation with only twenty complete questionnaires filled
out after 10 months. This did not matter as the information I was seeking was for my own benefit
and was qualitative field work12
and not part of a research that required a certain amount of filled-in
questionnaires to prove or disprove anything. At the end of each operation we would return to the
Auckland Harbour Bridge command centre where I would write up my notes and observations of
the shift. My interviews and observations of the suspected EBA drivers can be found in part II of this
A Routine TAG Operation
A usual TAG operation would commence with the booze bus arriving at the designated checkpoint
site first. The driver situates the bus, or buses if there are more than one at the site, in a position that
allows for safe and effective CBT. The driver is then joined by the officer in charge of operations
(Site Safety Officer) and other officers who will be manning the checkpoint. Cones are then used to
create the checkpoint (see Appendix 1) and divert traffic to testing areas. As soon as the other officers
working the checkpoint (or “on the line”) arrive, operations can begin. A single bus operation will
have between 5-8 officers working on the line. Police cars are parked facing the flow of traffic to
pursue those attempting to avoid the checkpoint by doing U-turns or even fleeing the vehicles (see
Appendix 1). As well as the marked police vehicles there is usually an unmarked car parked some
distance from the checkpoint for the same purpose.
As soon as the officers on the line detect a driver who fails the initial sniffer test they are directed to
park their vehicle in a designated safe area not far from the bus. The driver is then asked to provide a
further breath test. Those passing this test are allowed to continue on their journey whilst those who
fail are required to accompany the officer to the bus for further testing. The vehicles of those stopped
for further roadside testing also have their registration details checked by computer on the booze bus
and the officer also checks the licence of the driver and Warrant of Fitness details etc. Sometimes
those who pass the test are found to be in violation of the law in other matters such as being banned
12 The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision-making, not just what, where, when. Hence,
smaller but focused samples are more often needed than large samples.
or unlicensed drivers or having warrants
out for their arrest or un-roadworthy
vehicles etc. When this happens the
drivers are required to undergo the due
process involved in their particular
violation of the law. This requires the
officer involved to be taken off the line,
thus reducing the effectiveness of the
operation. Some are required to
accompany the officer or officers to a
police station, also reducing the
effectiveness of operations. If several such
offenders are detected this could reduce the operation to one or two officers on the line. In such
instances, especially when traffic flow is heavy, the traffic is often waved through until the
circumstances for stopping traffic are again safe and effective.
As well as those detected by way of the checkpoint, other suspected EBAs are brought to the bus by
mobile units who have stopped and tested drivers away from the checkpoint.
Along with those drivers who would try to avoid the checkpoint by U-turning, on every operation I
attended there would be a huge number of ‘turners’. These are drivers who would turn into cul-de-
sacs, driveways or any road that allowed them to avoid the checkpoint. The officers I worked with
were well aware of such tactics and any driver doing this would be confronted and tested by officers.
I was amazed at the lengths drivers would go to avoid the checkpoint and witnessed drivers parking
their vehicles and hiding in bushes or shrubbery, drivers blatantly getting out of their vehicles and
swapping places with their passengers and once I witnessed a driver leaping from his moving vehicle
and running away, leaving his car (with passenger) to roll to stop some distance from the checkpoint.
The police were often joined by other organizations at the checkpoint including court bailiffs,
officials from the New Zealand Transport Agency and other organisations who use the checkpoint to
check that road users are driving lawfully and safely.
After several hours at one location the entire operation would then usually move on to another
designated site for the rest of the shift.
Aboard the Bus
I was never allowed to be aboard the bus during a suspects processing and all the information here,
on these proceedings, is provided by the police and from interviews and conversations with TAG
Once on the bus, the suspect goes through a process comprising of- being read their Bill of Rights,
and the filling in of forms13
Those who do not pass the evidential breath test are then again read their Bill of Rights and given a
ten minute period to decide whether or not they want to use the option of a blood test. If they do
want a blood test, a medical professional is contacted and asked to attend the bus to take the test.
This was usually done by nurses who were on call to do such work and once they were called out
they usually stayed with the unit until the end of operations or until they were called to another
booze bus. Those refusing both a blood or breath test are considered to be suspected of EBA (Excess
Breath Alcohol) driving.
, and checks to ascertain that they are whom they claim to be. They are
then asked to provide two breath samples using evidential breath test equipment. Those who pass
this test are then allowed to go on their way if the officer feels that they are in a fit state to drive.
Even if a driver is not above the legal limit an officer can require the driver not to continue driving if
the officer feels they are in no fit state to do so. I observed officers using this discretion and also
talked to drivers who fell into this category.
Once the offender has been processed they are free to go. If they can make arrangements for their
vehicle to be taken from the operations site they are free to do so or, if not, the vehicle is parked and
locked close by, with the driver able to pick up the keys from the police the next day. They are
required not to drive for the next 12 hours.
Any time that an officer is away from the testing line reduces the effectiveness of the CBT operation
so any initiatives that reduce time away from testing would be advantageous.
13 Blood test form available at
The re-reading of the Bill of Rights seems excessive and surely one reading would save time. The
option of the blood test may need to be reviewed as evidence suggests that the correlation between
blood and breath tests seems conclusive14. Although there are concerns that abolishment of the blood
test option may result in more appeals questioning the effectiveness and reliability of the Evidential
Breath Test equipment, none to date have been successful (and even with the blood option are still
contested and appealed15) and this in my opinion strengthens the case for the removal of the blood
test option completely and a charge being based solely on the breath test?. The 'blood option' is now
looked upon as being obsolete as evidential breath testing machines have been proven to be both
reliable and accurate.16 Defendants who are able to use the statutory option may actually benefit
from the inevitable delay between requesting to provide an alternative sample of blood for analysis
and the time at which they actually do this. This is because BAC levels decrease over time. I feel that
it would also preclude matters that lawyers may use for argument in court later. Blood tests could be
reserved for those who are close to the legal limit as they were previously17, or for special
circumstances such as refusal to provide a
breath test, or at a hospital. This would
speed up the process considerably as it
wouldn't require a 10 minute wait, nor a
wait to get a nurse to the site which,
depending on the distance to the bus, the
road conditions, weather, etc could take up
to 40 minutes. It would also have
substantial financial benefits as the police
would not have to pay for the sampling kits,
ESR18 analysis or nurse/doctors fees. From
Official Information Act requests I have made on any information relating to discussion on the right
to a blood test, there appears to be much debate concerning the removal of the statutory right to
request evidential blood tests. I know that there exists a police interim report on these matters but
have so far been unable to obtain a copy. More recently CBT operations have received another blow
in the form of a court ruling19
14 North. 2010.
which means that all booze buses must now be fitted with stabilizers
15 For examples see (list of appeals)
16 North 2010
17 The Land Transport (Road Safety Enforcement) Amendment Act 2001 removed legal
Impediments to the operation of breath testing devices and urban speed cameras. Under the Act,
no matter what the result of a breath test, a driver has the right to request a blood sample.
Previously this right was limited to drivers with a breath alcohol level of 600μg/l or below.
18 ESR, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, is a government-owned New Zealand Crown Research
Institute and the sole provider of forensic services to the New Zealand Police
19 Court ruling McGrath available here
and, further, allows those suspected of EBA driving to request to be taken to a police station or
equally suitable premises for the taking of the blood sample, thus requiring officers to be taken off
the line and reducing the effectiveness of the operation. Reducing Impaired Driving in New Zealand
will be researching in more detail the pros and cons of the right to request an evidential blood test
and this information will be available at a later date.
The ten minute period given to those who fail the Evidential Breath Test (EBT) (to decide on
whether or not they want to have a blood test) can cause ambiguities, and lead to challenges in court.
This happened recently when a suspect used this period to call his boss, and his lawyer later used this
information to successfully challenge the EBA charge20
Filling your mouth with coins or ice to fool the breath test equipment
. I witnessed drivers using this time to try and
expel alcohol from their bloodstream by running or doing vigorous activities in the hope that this
would reduce their blood alcohol level. I also witnessed drivers disappearing during this period, and
returning up to 30 minutes or later for their blood test. Drivers would often seek advice from others
awaiting the nurses arrival or from passengers who were waiting for their drivers to be tested aboard
the bus. I heard many ‘strategiesfrom these conversations eagerly digested by those trying to reduce
their BAC level, and also many other urban myths relating to the possibility of fooling the testing
equipment. These included
Drinking vast quantities of water
Extreme physical exertion
The 10 minute period seems to cause confusion among the desperate, and in my opinion reduces the
effectiveness of CBT operations by allowing those suspected impaired drivers to be encouraged by
others on the scene who are hardly experts on the subject.
20 Court ruling Mead available here
Amendments to the Land Transport Act
Repeat drink drive offenders are a notable part of New Zealands drink drive problem. The total
number of convicted drink drive offenders comprises about 1 percent of New Zealands driving
population, and repeat offenders comprise about 0.3 percent. However, between 2005 and 2007,
repeat drink drive offenders were involved in around 23 percent of the serious and fatal alcohol-
related crashes.
To address these problems the Government has recently introduced, or will be introducing soon, the
following measures:
A zero BAC allowance for youth (i.e. drivers under the age of 20) which came into effect in
August 2011.
The maximum penalties for causing death or injury by drink driving will be raised. The
maximum sentence for causing death will be increased from 5 to 10 years.
There will be a zero BAC allowance for repeat and high level BAC offenders. ‘High level
means offenders who are twice the legal limit or over. This will be coming into effect at the
same time as the introduction of Alcohol Ignition Interlocks21
Repeat and high level BAC offenders will be subject to a zero BAC licence for 3 years after
which they are eligible to hold a normal licence again, or for 3 years after the removal of an
interlock if required by a judge to fit one. Interlock licences will identify interlock- required
drivers who will be allowed to drive nominated interlock-fitted vehicles only.
Currently the police do not check a driver’s licence at a CBT checkpoint unless the traffic flow is low
and they have time to do so. With the introduction of interlocks and the zero BAC licence the police
will now have to check all licences at the CBT checkpoints. There are other issues with the three year
zero BAC licence which I voiced in a letter to the Minister of Transport. The letter, on the following
page, highlights my concerns.
21 An alcohol ignition interlock is a device fitted to a vehicle that requires the driver to blow a sample of breath that
is clear of alcohol to enable them to start their vehicle.
Dear Sir.
I am writing with regards to the 3 year zero BAC allowance for repeat and high level drink drivers either
after a period of alcohol interlock use or a disqualification period. I have concerns regarding the impact
on Police Traffic Alcohol Groups and their Compulsory Breath Test Operations. I note that in the
Regulatory Impact Statement: ‘Completing the actions to address alcohol-impaired driving’, the Ministry
of Transport recognizes that:
Research suggests that a significant number of repeat drink drivers are alcohol dependent. By
itself a zero limit may not be effective for people with alcohol addiction issues. As a consequence we
would expect there to be a relatively high level of non-compliance with the zero limit.’
Through my own research, I too have come to the same conclusion. Unless the intention is for all of these
drivers to be screened, assessed, and either coerced into treatment or other interventions for their
problems (which I hope it is) a zero BAC licence alone will do little to address a drivers alcohol problems.
I have for the last 10 months regularly accompanied the Auckland Traffic Alcohol Group on Compulsory
Breath Testing operations. If the police will now be processing zero BAC licence holders for any amount
of alcohol detected, even levels that are considered ‘safe’ by current New Zealand law, I believe this will
impact greatly on their ability to detect and stop offenders who will be driving with illegal BAC levels.
There will be an estimated 7500 repeat drink drivers that will be eligible for a zero BAC licence and
figures from the Yearly Report 2010 ‘Motor Vehicle Crashes in New Zealand 2009’, suggest that this
figure could double when adding those who are twice the limit and over.
The police will be very busy processing drivers under 0.08 BAC, many of whom, as the Ministry of
Transport also recognizes, may ask for a blood test as well as other delaying tactics. Officers usually take
about 25 minutes to process a driver who has only had an Evidential Breath Test but I have seen officers
come off screening duties for nearly 2 hours when a blood test is required. This could see officers tied up
with low level BAC offenders, shutting down CBT operations, with the police unable to screen those who
could later go on cause death or injury. I have witnessed officers detecting drivers who anyone would
recognize as probably going to crash later in their journey.
Each year through Compulsory and Mobile breath testing the police manage to breath test around 3.2
million drivers. The licensed driving population of New Zealand is around the same figure, roughly
equating to 1 chance of being stopped every year. A reduction in this figure would be a backward step
for general deterrence as it would lower the perception of being caught.
While I understand the intention of a zero BAC limit licence surely it would make more sense for there to
be an infringement penalty for those drivers under 0.08 BAC and definitely for those under 0.05 BAC.
Tying up the police and courts with offenders who do not pose as much of a threat as those over the
current BAC limit, does not I feel serve the best interests of the public or their safety on New Zealands
roads. It does not make economic sense either, unlike the infringement model.22
22 Letter to Minister of Transport from author, 2011
The ministers reply appeared to share my concerns and he reported that:
It is possible that the zero limit licence may create operational issues for Police at compulsory
breath test checkpoints in terms of tying up police resources processing low level alcohol
offenders. However, this issue will be monitored as part of an on-going review of the legislation.
If it proves to be a problem for the police, then options for resolving it can be considered at the
appropriate time.23
The Minister also reported that:
The Government is progressing a new approach to reduce offending and victimization called addressing
the Drivers of Crime.24
RIDNZ will also be watching closely the impact of the zero BAC legislation.
One of the four priority areas is to reduce harm from alcohol and improve access
to treatment. The Ministers of Justice and Health recently announced an additional $10 million funding
package for alcohol and drug treatment. Of this, $1 million has been specifically allocated to support
programmes for drink-drivers.”
23 Letter to author, 2011
Part II
Interviews with Suspected Impaired Drivers
Part of my observations on CBT involved talking with those suspected of EBA driving. Many topics
were covered, including:
Perceptions of the likelihood of getting stopped or caught
Alcohol and or drug problems
Possible initiatives to reduce impaired driving including the use of alcohol ignition interlocks
Suspected EBA drivers came from all backgrounds and were of all ages, and whilst I was on
operations there seemed to be no unevenness between males or females. There seemed to be no
apparent link between these drivers apart from the fact that they had all decided to drive whilst over
the legal limit. In my opinion, all those stopped were impaired enough to have been very likely to
have caused harm to themselves or others if they had continued their journeys.
As I mentioned in Part One of this paper, the technique I adopted was to be approached and
engaged in conversation by those suspected of EBA driving. The driversmoods ranged from anger
to apathy, with a myriad of other emotions. I spoke with repeat offenders who told me that alcohol
and other drug use affected many aspects of their lives. Many of the first-time detected offenders
reported the same ‘alcohol and/or drug’ problems and stated that, whilst this was the first time they
had been detected EBA driving, they believed it was not the first time they had driven whilst over
the legal limit or while impaired.25
There were drivers that didn’t care about the dangers of drink driving and for whom getting stopped
and tested was a Waste of police time. Many drivers reported that they had only had “one drink and
were amazed that they had failed the Evidential Breath Test, even those with readings well over 400
micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.
25 Miller et al 2003
With those who appeared to be incapable of discussion, I broke off contact. They would slur their
words and forget what they were saying and often digress into stories unrelated to our discussion,
unable it appeared to be able to concentrate. I was amazed that they could drive at all.
There were two types of driver that scared me the most:
Those that were travelling with their children whilst impaired
Those who reported to me that they felt impaired, but once passing the Evidential
Breath Test, felt it was okay to continue driving
When I asked the drivers who felt impaired but still chose to drive, why they did so, the usual
response was similar to this drivers reply:
Well, I’ve never been stopped before
One driver I spoke to could hardly believe he passed the EBT, reporting to me that he didn’t know
whether he’d make it home, or would have to sleep in his car if he felt he couldn’t continue his
There seemed to be no recognition of the dangers of impaired driving only the perceived danger or
risk of getting caught. Amazingly none of the drivers I spoke to believed they were doing anything
dangerous at all.
Many drivers seemed to know the law and the penalties involved in being detected driving whilst
over the limit. The loss of their licence was of great concern to those drivers that had one. Several I
spoke to did not hold a current licence or were already forbidden or disallowed to drive. There were
many arguments and recriminations from partners, family members or workmates who had to be
telephoned to come and collect the drivers or their vehicles at all hours of the night. Some partners
even had to bring the children along, on one occasion at 2am. Whenever possible though, the police,
much to their credit, would arrange a ride home for those whom they believed would be in danger or
their families hugely inconvenienced if they had to make their own way.
Most of the drivers I spoke to were sorry that they had decided to drive after drinking and were
aware of the hardships that may result from a conviction and disqualification from driving. There
was however a small number of drivers who said they would continue to drive even if disqualified,
with one driver reporting:
“Yeah I’ll still drive if I’m banned; this is the first time I’ve been stopped.”
The Blood Test
I was asked many questions about the blood test. Mostly it was relating to the correlation between
the breath test and the blood test and how likely it would be that the blood test would be lower than
the breath reading.26
Many drivers took the option of the blood test because it was offered, and they were of the mind
that it couldn’t do any harm and that if there was a delay before they got the test, then just maybe
they would fall under the limit. None of the drivers I spoke to realized that they would be paying the
cost of the test and associated costs if the test did not reveal them to be under the limit.
My only commentary on the blood test option to the drivers I spoke to was that if their EBA reading
was close to 400 then it may be an option, but if it was high then they would only, in my opinion,
be adding extra costs to the ones they may have to pay if convicted of drink driving.
Discussions on Reducing Impaired Driving
Of all the responses to my questions on initiatives that could reduce impaired driving there was one
which I believe best captures the essence of the problem. It was:
“If drinking and driving is so dangerous, why is it allowed?“
This was incidentally the first question that I had asked the Minister of Transport at the start of my
correspondence with the Ministry. As I am of the view that all levels of alcohol impair ones ability
to drive, this seemed an obvious question. The Ministers response was:
“I understand the sentiment you express in your question. Drink driving is one of the key causes
of road crashes, in 2008 crashes involving alcohol resulted in 119 deaths and 2308 injuries.
However, in practice, drink driving limits represent a balance between increasing road safety on
one hand, and allowing people the choice of enjoying a moderate level of alcohol and still being
able to drive on the other.
A zero drink drive limit for all drivers is unlikely to be welcomed by the majority of New
Zealanders at this time. To be effective in reducing death and injury, a drink drive limit, like any
other road safety measure, needs to be supported by road users.” 27
26 For further information read Stowell et al, 2008 and Gainsford et al, 2006
Often there was the opportunity to have group discussions with several drivers awaiting a ride home.
The attitude amongst these drivers was, in the main, jovial and one of shared misery. The drivers felt
more relaxed in the company of those who shared their fate, and on one occasion a driver went to his
vehicle and returned with cans of beer for the other drivers.
The majority of drivers I talked to hadn’t thought they would be stopped on their journeys and most
reported that their drinking and driving habits had been consistent. There appeared to be an attitude
of drink driving not being dangerous, with one driver reporting:
“I’ve been doing it for years and I’ve never crashed.”
Others believed that they drove better after a few28
“Once you’ve started drinking you are having a good time with your mates and you don’t think how
drunk you’ll be when you’ve got to drive home.”
drinks. It was during the group discussions that I
started to realize that not only did alcohol affect the driversability to drive but also their decision
making. On more than one occasion a driver would say something similar to this driver:
A lot of drivers I talked to were unsure of the legal limit and reported that sometimes they could
have several drinks and feel okay to drive, but on other occasions one drink could make them feel
drunk. This, I believe, is an interesting point as the legal limit in New Zealand does not actually
measure a drivers level of impairment.
None of the drivers I talked to knew what an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device was. After I had
explained to them how the device worked, the first response usually involved ideas of how to
circumvent or fool the device. I explained the technology and way in which the data stored by the
device was used to identify such attempts. I also explained their intended use in New Zealand.29
The majority of drivers I discussed interlocks with thought they were a great idea, with many
agreeing with me that they would be an ideal response to those detected driving over the limit. There
were concerns expressed over the cost of the device and the inconvenience of having the device
checked every month
27 Letter to author 10th May 2010
. All the drivers I spoke to regarding interlocks recognized the obvious fact
that they would encourage good and safe driving practice if used in the intended manner. I was
asked how long the device would stay on the vehicle, and what happens after it is removed? I
28 Nobody quantified what a few drinks were.
29 For information on interlocks and their intended use in NZ see:
30 ibid
explained that research has shown that following removal of interlocks, re-arrest rates reverted to
levels similar to those for comparison groups. 31
One driver I spoke to thought the interlock would be a great mandatory response to those first-time
detected EBA drivers, and we also discussed the possibility of there being no criminal conviction
attached to this first-time detection, as a way of ensuring compliance with the requirements of the
The drivers I spoke to had come from clubs, bars, parties or from a friend or family members house.
They talked of poor public transport and high costs of taxi services as reasons for their drink driving.
Drug Drivers
During my time on operations with the TAG, I never witnessed the undertaking of a CIT although
I was shown what it involved and how long it took32. Several of the drivers I spoke to, though,
admitted that they had smoked cannabis before being stopped at the checkpoint, and of concern to
some of these drivers was whether or not the blood test would be used to check for this.33
I told drivers who revealed illegal driving through the use of prescribed or illicit drugs that in other
34 they used dedicated roadside testing for drugs such as cannabis, Methamphetamine,
benzodiazepines and opiates through the use of a saliva sample.35 Drivers asked me how effective
they were36
and whether they were going to be used in New Zealand.
31 Elder et al, 2011
32 My test took 15 minutes with paperwork
33 It is not
34 Australia
35 A device is put into the mouth and tests the saliva for drugs.
36 For research on the effectiveness of roadside drug testing go to:
Perceptions of being Detected
CBT operations are the frontline for detecting impaired drivers, and I felt it was important to
understand whether or not the drivers who were stopped were aware of this.
Many of the repeat offenders I spoke to had been detected by such checkpoints previously but for
many of the first time detected offenders it was also the first time they had encountered CBT
operations, though most knew of their existence. Knowledge of CBT seemed to come from word of
mouth or newspaper reports of intense operations over a holiday period, as opposed to having
previously seen or having been stopped at a checkpoint. I asked the drivers if they had seen any of
the televised adverting of CBT operations or the roadside signage. None had and this is hardly
surprising as none exists,37 though this seems at odds with roadside testing in other countries where
advertising is an integral part of its effectiveness.38
Roadside testing operations are meant to be highly visible, raising the perception that if you are
contemplating driving over the limit, the chances are that you will be stopped and tested.
Final Thoughts
Whilst I do not try to prove or disprove anything about impaired driving in New Zealand through
my discussions, observations and conversations with those suspected EBA drivers, it was of great help
to me to understand the reasoning behind the decision-making process (itself impaired by alcohol or
other drugs) that enabled the drivers to come to the decision to drive whilst over the limit or feeling
There were those who thought they were under the limit and those who believed they were over the
limit but chanced being caught: this being the worst that could happen in many drivers’ opinions.
None of the drivers I spoke to believed they would be involved in an accident or believed that their
actions would cause harm to themselves or others.
37 With the exception of media advertising on holiday periods or for large scale operations
38 Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland, 2010
The Drink Drivers
The following are eight interviews with drivers I spoke to and which I believe is a good
representation of the non-homogenous nature of the suspected offenders.
Driver A
51 years old, white NZ/ European, male
Driver A had been drinking at a friend’s house and was on his way home when he was stopped and
tested. He failed the test and did not elect to have a blood test done. He initially reported to me that
he did not believe he was over the limit when he started his journey and that he never drove when he
thought he was over the limit. He thought that the interlock device would be of benefit to him as he
believed that he had a problem with alcohol. As was usually the case with other drivers after talking
for some time, he relaxed and opened up to me. He told me that he had three previous convictions
for drink driving and one for driving whilst disqualified (he initially told me that he would not drive
if disqualified). He reported that he had never been ordered to have an alcohol assessment done at
any of his appearances at court.
Driver B
19 years old, Pacific Islander, male
This driver was one of the most honest offenders I met. He had two previous convictions for drink
driving and had only recently got his licence back. He had been drinking at home when he got a
telephone call from his sister who had had a fight with her boyfriend and wanted to be picked up.
Driver B reported that he had a problem with alcohol and concern had been expressed by friends
and family who, he reported, had their own problems with drugs and alcohol. The TAG carries
literature and pamphlets supplied by ALAC39 and ADANZ40
for those who need help with their
drinking or drug problems. Whenever possible I gave these out to drivers who reported that they
needed help with their problems. Driver B however reported to me that they would be of no use to
him as he could not read. He told me that he needed help with his drink problem and had received
no alcohol assessments at his previous court appearances. He did not elect to have a blood test.
39 Alcohol advisory Council
40 Alcohol Drug Association New Zealand
Driver C
28 years old, Pacific Islander, female
Driver C knew that she was over the limit when she started her journey. She reported that she
thought she may be stopped but did not worry about it as drinking and driving was something that
she did on a regular basis. Driver C reported that she believed she had an alcohol problem but
appeared to be at ease with this and said she did not want any help. She thought that an interlock
would be of great use to her and reported that:
The only thing that would stop me from drink driving is if I was disabled
She did not elaborate on whether she meant physically or technologically. Driver C did not elect to
have a blood test as she:
Just wanted to get home to have a drink
Driver D
21 years old, white/ European, male
Driver D had been at a wedding party and had been drinking all day. He and some friends were on
their way to join others to continue drinking at a different location. Driver D did not think that he
was going to be stopped and reported that this was the first time he had driven whilst he believed he
was over the limit. He reported that:
It was the only way to get to the others - there are no buses and we had to use my car
Driver D thought that if he was ordered to fit an interlock it would be an appropriate penalty but
reported that he would never drink and drive again. He reported no alcohol problems and that this
was a “one off” event. He did not elect to have a blood test.
Driver E
32 years old, Pacific Islander, female
Driver E was travelling with her two young children in the vehicle. She reported that she did not
think she was over the limit, but told me that she did drive after she had been drinking and that it
was a habit she would like to break. She believed that the interlock would be of good use to her as it
would disallow this habit. Driver E told me that this was the first time she had been stopped at a
CBT checkpoint. She also reported that she did not believe she had a problem with alcohol. She
took the option of a blood test as she believed her breath reading was close enough to 400 that
maybe by the time of the blood test it would be lower.
Driver F
25 years old, white/European, female
Driver F was quite distraught and believed that she was not over the limit. She opted for a blood test
and spoke to a lawyer. She believed that a conviction would lead to the loss of her job. She told me
that this was the first time she had been out drinking in 6 months and that she had only had a few
glasses of wine. She was aware of CBT operations but to me seemed genuinely convinced that she
was not impaired enough to have been unable to drive.
Driver G
40 years old, white/European, male
Driver G had been out for the evening with friends. He reported that he thought he was over the
limit but did not believe he would be stopped and tested. He told me that he often would drive after
drinking and believed the limit was no indicator of one’s ability to drive. He thought that there
should be a zero limit:
You should be allowed to drink and drive or not, how are you able to tell if you’ve had too much?”
Driver G thought that the interlock device was too intrusive. He did not opt for a blood test and
told me that he would continue in his habit of drink driving and also that he didn’t believe he had a
problem with alcohol.
Driver H
24 years old, Maori, male
Driver H reported that he had one previous conviction for drink driving and was aware that there
was a chance he might be stopped and tested on his journey. He did not believe he was over the
limit. He told me that his family had expressed concerns about his drinking habits but had not
spoken to anyone about this:
Because I haven’t got a problem. If I wanted to talk to someone about my driving it would mean that I
have a problem.”
Driver H did not elect to have a blood test. Driver H also reported that if a family member was hurt
as a result of his or othersdrink driving then this would probably stop him from drink driving.
I believe that CBT operations are highly effective at detecting those who are driving above the legal
limit and stopping them from causing harm to themselves or others. It is obvious that more CBT
operations and TAG staff would be of great benefit to the effectiveness of CBT, in turn reducing the
harm caused by impaired driving in New Zealand. The officers and support staff I worked alongside
were all highly trained, diligent and hugely motivated in their efforts to detect those who were
driving over the limit or driving whilst impaired.
The introduction of dedicated drug testing units would be of great benefit as the CIT currently used
is not as fast and exact as current oral testing technology used in other countries such as Australia.
There are however several issues surrounding levels of impairment of drugs and therefore the
relationship to road safety. There does exist analysis that offers an empirical basis for a per se limit
for THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis
plant, that allows identification of drivers impaired by cannabis.41 Indeed as of February 2012, legal
limits for twenty illegal drugs (including cannabis) and medicines with an abuse potential have been
introduced by the Norwegian government. Norway is the first country to define both impairment-
based legislative limits and limits for graded sanctions for drugs other than alcohol.42
For while it is illegal to use illicit substances and a considerable number of road deaths do involve
There should in my opinion be more discussion and debate concerning the statutory right for a
driver to elect to have a blood test and as I mentioned in the paper, RIDNZ will be researching this
in more depth. The 10 minute wait period is a minefield and to my mind is completely unnecessary
and does nothing to improve CBT operations - in fact the opposite is true. The repeated reading of
the Bill of Rights, while only a small point, also seems excessive and a waste of time.
, whether processing and charging drivers for the presence of ‘any’ amount of drugs would
improve road safety is a cause for discussion. I, however, believe that roadside testing for drugs
would have a great deterrent value.
From my conversations with those suspected of EBA driving, it appears that hardly any of them
thought it was likely that they would be stopped at a CBT checkpoint. None of them had seen any
televised advertising of CBT operations or roadside signage. Advertising is a vital component of
effective roadside testing operations. Advertising and its cost effectiveness has also been an area of
mixed concern.44
41 Grotenhermen. 2007
But evidence suggests that for the most part evaluations of advertising campaigns
should be based on before and after comparison of behaviours or variables that can be objectively
43 Alcohol and other drug use in New Zealand drivers, 2004-2009
44 Lewis, T. 2001.
observed and are closely linked to safety.45
The drivers I spoke to seemed unaware or incapable of perceiving driving over the limit or impaired
driving as being dangerous. Many drivers thought that interlocks would be a good response to all
those detected driving over the limit and would encourage good driving practice. I am an advocate of
interlocks for all detected EBA offenders and believe that interlock should be the mandatoryresponse
to drink driving.
I do feel however that the advertising and publicity I have
seen to deter drivers from impaired driving is aimed at rational people. I don’t know if the majority
of drivers I spoke to would be considered rational.
I attempted to pick as many holes as possible in the CBT operations I attended but found that there
wasn’t much to pick at. However I believe the following should be discussed and reviewed:
More dedicated TAG staffing for current CBT operations
Review of the statutory right to elect a blood test
Review of the need to read the Bill of Rights more than once
Abolition of the 10 minute wait period
Media, televised, and roadside signage of CBT operations
Investigate use of oral testing for drugs at the roadside
45 Wundersitz et al 2009
46 Waters 2010
Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Drink Driving Discussion Paper, 2010 page 19
Elder RW, Voas R, Beirness D, et al. Effectiveness of ignition interlocks for preventing alcohol-impaired
driving and alcohol-related crashes a community guide systematic review. Am J Prev Med. 2011;
Gainsford AR, Fernando DM, Lea RA et al. (2006) A large-scale study of the relationship
between blood and breath alcohol concentrations in New Zealand drinking drivers. J Forensic
Sci 51:1738.
Grotenhermen F, Leson G, Berghaus G, et al. Developing limits for driving under cannabis. Addiction
2007; 102: 191017.
Lewis, T. (2001). Same data, different conclusions: Analysis of the New Zealand drink-driving
campaign data. Every picture tells a different story. Marketing Bulletin, 12, Commentary 1.
Miller, T.R., & Blewden, M. (2001). Costs of Alcohol-Related Crashes in NZ. Page 2
Miller T, Blewden M, Zhang J. Cost savings from a sustained compulsory breath testing and media
campaign in New Zealand. Accid Anal Prev. 2004
Poulsen H, Alcohol and other drug use in New Zealand drivers, 2004-2009, Environmental
Science and Research Ltd (ESR), 2010
North, P. (2010). Report of the Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law. Department of Transport, London.
Stowell, A. R.; Gainsford, A. R.; Gullberg, R. G. Forensic Sci. Int. 2008, 178 (2-3), 8392.
Waters, G, “The Case for Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts in New Zealand” (2011)
Waters, G. V. (2010). Submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee Land
Transport (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. Submitted by Gerald Waters on behalf of
the friends and family of Katherine Kennedy.
Wundersitz L, Hutchinson TP, Woolley JE. Best practice in road safety mass media campaigns: A
literature review. Adelaide: Centre for Automotive Safety Research; 2009.
Appendix 1
CBT Checkpoint layouts
Appendix 2
Suspected EBA questionnaire
Male /female Age: Ethnicity: White NZ/ EuropeanMaori Pacific IslanderOther
Marital Status: Married Single Defacto Divorced Separated Widowed
Occupation: Government assistance/pension Education: Secondary/ Tertiary
Thank you for taking part in this questionnaire
1. Did you think that you may have been over the
limit when you set out today?
Yes No Unsure
2. Did you think it was likely that you would be
Yes No Unsure
3. Did you worry that you could get caught drink
driving today?
Yes No Unsure
4. Do you worry that you might lose your licence for
drink driving?
Yes No Unsure
5. Do you often drive after drinking when you could
be over the limit?
Often Sometimes Never
6. Do you know the penalties for drink driving
Yes No Unsure
7. Is drink driving a habit you would like to break?
Yes No Unsure
8. Do you think that you might drive even if you were
Yes No Unsure
9. Do you think you might drink and drive in the
Yes No Unsure
10. What do you think would stop you from drink
11. Do you think having a device fitted to your car
that doesn’t allow drink driving would be of use to
Yes No Unsure
12. Do you think you have a problem with alcohol?
Yes No Unsure
13. Has a doctor, friend or family member ever
expressed concern about your drinking habits?
Yes No
14. Would you like to talk to someone about help
with your drinking? Yes No Unsure
Reducing Impaired Driving in New Zealand
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
I am neither an academic nor politically motivated. I am just an average guy, with a family, living in New Zealand. However I have had an opportunity to experience firsthand the devastating effects of what can happen when an offender, whose offending is driven by alcohol/drug dependency, fails – for whatever reason – to have alcohol/drug issues meaningfully addressed. In March 2010, on a road near Kerikeri, our friend Katherine Kennedy was killed by a drunk-driver with 17 previous convictions for drink-driving. Since this terrible event, I have researched the case extensively to get a sense of what could have been done differently, and have come to the conclusion that this tragedy was predictable and could possibly have been prevented. I was in court when the driver who killed our friend was sentenced. I did not see a violent killer who was intent on killing, in the dock that day. I saw an out-of-control alcoholic who had presented himself as such to the justice system on many previous occasions. I have spent the last year studying Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) impaired driving in New Zealand and internationally. I have also researched: • Worldwide studies of recidivism • Studies on counter measures for drink-driving such as alcohol ignition interlocks • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level and accident rate correlation • Worldwide studies of lowering of the BAC for drivers • Rehabilitation and treatment of drink drivers • Therapeutic jurisprudence • Studies on worldwide drink-driving sanctions • Data and statistics on drink-driving in New Zealand • AOD Treatment courts • AOD rehabilitation in NZ and internationally I am in consultation and correspondence with world recognised experts and professionals in all the above fields. I am currently carrying out NZ specific research on drink-driving, and regularly accompany a police Traffic Alcohol Group on Compulsory Breath Testing operations in the Auckland area. I am researching and compiling data regarding the construction of an effective and economically viable drink-drive initiative for New Zealand. I am investigating the circumstances surrounding our friend’s death to identify where improvements to the justice system could be made to prevent further avoidable harm.
Full-text available
This report provides a timely review of what is currently known about road safety advertising design and evaluation. Australian and international advertising literature published from 2001 to 2009 was reviewed to determine best practice for road safety mass media campaigns in South Australia. Instead of determining whether road safety advertising is effective or not, this review focused on what elements of road safety advertising are more effective and for whom. The review describes current psychological theories of behaviour change and social persuasion that are relevant to road safety advertising. In terms of mass media campaign design, factors that can improve campaign effectiveness were identified such as integrating advertising with other activities (e.g. enforcement), tailoring message content and means of communication to the characteristics of the target audience, and using new technology and multiple forms of media to reach the target audience. In addition, the effects of different levels of advertising exposure were considered and the efficacy of threat appeals and alternatives (i.e. positive emotional appeals) were discussed. The review also highlighted the difficulties in establishing the effectiveness of a mass media campaign, considered different evaluation methods and discussed the value of different campaign evaluation measures. Recent campaign evaluations were reviewed to highlight current key issues in campaign evaluation research. The report concludes with constructive recommendations for best practice for road safety mass media campaigns.
Everybody has an opinion on whether the New Zealand road safety television advertisements work to persuade people to behave better and thus reduce the road toll. The TV viewers disagree in conversation, and the experts disagree with one another in written reports, but the public wants to know whether the money is well spent and they can't understand why the experts can't tell them. This paper explains, in a language that is accessible to everyone, why we are so bad at monitoring the effects of advertising campaigns such as the road safety campaign. The paper explains how different results can be obtained from the same set of data and suggests that there is no objective way of judging between the different results. Moreover, the paper makes the claim that no amount of expertise can achieve a reliable result. The paper claims that the problems are inherent in the way the data are generated and collected, but a makes a controversial suggestion for a change to the way we view social experiments, so that the data generated is amenable to reliable analysis.
Blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) and corresponding breath alcohol concentrations (BrAC) were determined for 21,582 drivers apprehended by New Zealand police. BAC was measured using headspace gas chromatography, and BrAC was determined with Intoxilyzer 5000 or Seres Ethylometre infrared analysers. The delay (DEL) between breath testing and blood sampling ranged from 0.03 to 5.4 h. BAC/BrAC ratios were calculated before and after BAC values were corrected for DEL using 19 mg/dL/h as an estimate of the blood alcohol clearance rate. Calculations were performed for single and duplicate breath samples obtained using the Intoxilyzer (groups I-1 and I-2) and Seres devices (groups S-1 and S-2). Before correction for DEL, BAC/BrAC ratios for groups I-1, I-2, S-1, and S-2 were (mean±SD) 2320±260, 2180±242, 2330±276, and 2250±259, respectively. After BAC values were adjusted for DEL, BAC/BrAC ratios for these groups were (mean±SD) 2510±256, 2370±240, 2520±280, and 2440±260, respectively. Our results indicate that in New Zealand the mean BAC/BrAC ratio is 19–26% higher than the ratio of the respective legal limits (2000).
A systematic review of the literature to assess the effectiveness of ignition interlocks for reducing alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes was conducted for the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide). Because one of the primary research issues of interest--the degree to which the installation of interlocks in offenders' vehicles reduces alcohol-impaired driving in comparison to alternative sanctions (primarily license suspension)--was addressed by a 2004 systematic review conducted for the Cochrane Collaboration, the current review incorporates that previous work and extends it to include more recent literature and crash outcomes. The body of evidence evaluated includes the 11 studies from the prior review, plus four more recent studies published through December 2007. The installation of ignition interlocks was associated consistently with large reductions in re-arrest rates for alcohol-impaired driving within both the earlier and later bodies of evidence. Following removal of interlocks, re-arrest rates reverted to levels similar to those for comparison groups. The limited available evidence from three studies that evaluated crash rates suggests that alcohol-related crashes decrease while interlocks are installed in vehicles. According to Community Guide rules of evidence, these findings provide strong evidence that interlocks, while they are in use in offenders' vehicles, are effective in reducing re-arrest rates. However, the potential for interlock programs to reduce alcohol-related crashes is currently limited by the small proportion of offenders who participate in the programs and the lack of a persistent beneficial effect once the interlock is removed. Suggestions for facilitating more widespread and sustained use of ignition interlocks are provided.
This paper evaluates three approaches to compulsory breath testing (CBT) where all drivers stopped are tested: (1) intensive, moderate-profile CBT (plus zero alcohol tolerance for drivers under age 20, which was implemented simultaneously, remains in effect, and unavoidably is commingled with CBT in the effectiveness estimates); (2) CBT plus an enhanced media campaign; and (3) shifting to aggressively visible booze buses, which also streamlined drunk-driver processing, plus enhanced community campaigns against drunk-driving. Approaches 1 and 2 were implemented throughout New Zealand (NZ) in 1993 and 1995. Booze buses and community programs were added for about one-third of the country in late 1996. ARIMA time series models estimated the impact on serious and fatal injury crashes between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., a proxy for alcohol-related crashes. A benefit-cost analysis assessed return on investment. Cost savings were analyzed from four perspectives: societal, governmental, drunk-drivers', and people other than drunk-drivers (external cost). CBT plus zero tolerance reduced expected night-time crashes by 22.1% and enhanced media by 13.9%. Booze buses yielded a further 27.4% reduction where implemented. The program and associated crash reduction persisted until at least 2001 (the most recent data available). Estimated societal benefit-cost ratios were 14 for CBT, 19 for CBT plus enhanced media, and 26 for the comprehensive package. Government saved more than it spent on the program, especially with booze buses. Aggressive CBT plus zero alcohol tolerance for youth, media blitzes, and booze buses proved dramatically effective. Together, these four interventions halved late night serious and fatal injury crashes. Sustained effort seems to be critical. Better outcomes may be achieved with staged, increasingly visible and inescapable checkpoints than with an "ideal" initial program. It appears CBT is best implemented in conjunction with broader community-centered efforts to reduce drunk-driving.
Development of a rational and enforceable basis for controlling the impact of cannabis use on traffic safety. An international working group of experts on issues related to drug use and traffic safety evaluated evidence from experimental and epidemiological research and discussed potential approaches to developing per se limits for cannabis. In analogy to alcohol, finite (non-zero) per se limits for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in blood appear to be the most effective approach to separating drivers who are impaired by cannabis use from those who are no longer under the influence. Limited epidemiological studies indicate that serum concentrations of THC below 10 ng/ml are not associated with an elevated accident risk. A comparison of meta-analyses of experimental studies on the impairment of driving-relevant skills by alcohol or cannabis suggests that a THC concentration in the serum of 7-10 ng/ml is correlated with an impairment comparable to that caused by a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%. Thus, a suitable numerical limit for THC in serum may fall in that range. This analysis offers an empirical basis for a per se limit for THC that allows identification of drivers impaired by cannabis. The limited epidemiological data render this limit preliminary.
  • A R Stowell
  • A R Gainsford
  • R G Gullberg
Stowell, A. R.; Gainsford, A. R.; Gullberg, R. G. Forensic Sci. Int. 2008, 178 (2-3), 83-92.
Submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee Land Transport (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Bill
  • G V Waters
Waters, G. V. (2010). Submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee Land Transport (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. Submitted by Gerald Waters on behalf of the friends and family of Katherine Kennedy.
A large-scale study of the relationship between blood and breath alcohol concentrations in New Zealand drinking drivers
  • Ar Gainsford
  • Dm Fernando
  • Ra Lea
Gainsford AR, Fernando DM, Lea RA et al. (2006) A large-scale study of the relationship between blood and breath alcohol concentrations in New Zealand drinking drivers. J Forensic Sci 51:173–8.