Good response to new alcohol limit in Waitaki

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Police, restaurants and bars in Oamaru have noticed a positive change since the alcohol limit was lowered in December.

The legal alcohol limit was lowered from 400mcg to 250mcg for drivers over 20 on December 1, while the alcohol limit for drivers under 20 remained at zero.

Northstar Motels Restaurant & Bar manager Cathy Maaka said, since the change, people had been more aware of how they were going to get home and using alternative methods so they did not drink and drive.

Oamaru Club manager Prem Nath said more people were using the club’s courtesy van or getting a lift home with their partners.

“I’m really pleased that our members are taking the responsibility.”

Oamaru police Sergeant Tony Woodbridge said it was also pleasing to see that people had been obeying the new limit over the holiday period in the Waitaki District.

There was strong police presence, including alcohol check-points, at three events in the area the Omarama Rodeo, the Kurow Races, and the Waikouaiti Races and no-one was over the limit.

“Police are really wrapped that people are taking the new drink-driving legislation to heart.”

People were finding responsible ways to get home if they were drinking, Sergeant Woodbridge said.

“We’re not about not having a good time but about people getting home safely.”

Oamaru police had previously been disappointed in the number of drivers apprehended during the first week following the new law change.

Oamaru police Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy had previously said there were four people caught driving over the new alcohol limit in the first week, including two over 400mcg.

The law change has brought New Zealand into line with limits already in place in the majority of OECD countries.

Reducing deaths and serious injuries from drink-driving is a key part of the Government’s Safer Journeys strategy, which looks across the entire road system to improve safety through safer roads and roadsides, safer speeds, safer vehicles and safer road use.

By RUBY HARFIELD