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Published: 2003-08-06 00:00:00

Younger drinking drivers are becoming a worrying statistic since the drinking age was lowered, this week’s Environment Waikato Regional Road Safety Subcommittee was told.

Waikato’s ACC ‘booze bus’ has put more than 430,000 drivers through roadside alcohol checks in the past two years.

Police representative Inspector Leo Tooman said drunk drivers aged between 17 and 19 made up 23 percent of the total, compared with 29 percent aged 20 to 30 and 22 percent aged 31 to 40. Female young drivers were a growing percentage, with drivers aged 17 to 19 making up 26 percent of the female drinking driver statistics – more than males.

Female Maori drunk drivers were also a major problem, making up 48 percent of the total Maori drivers apprehended, while only representing 18 percent of the population.

Almost 1600 drunk drivers have been processed through the courts as a result of failed breath tests. The bus has also picked up more than 400 disqualified drivers and other offenders, including drug and criminal offences.

When asked where they had last been drinking, 48 percent said they were drinking at private houses. Thirty two percent were at licensed premises and four percent at work.

“Kiwis are generous hosts and people drinking at home often have no idea how much they have been drinking, “Inspector Tooman said.

The results of where people had been drinking was supplied to re-licensing bodies and used when premises re-applied for alcohol licenses.

The average breath test result was 606 micrograms, while the record was a male driver who recorded 2350 micrograms. The highest female recording was 2238 micrograms, he said.

“If we can keep motorists out of hospital then we can make room for other surgeries, such as children getting their tonsils out.