Most New Zealanders support the idea of confiscating the cars of repeat drink drivers, according to the latest NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) survey.
The Council polled 1,250 Kiwis up and down the country about their opinion on drunk driving.
In response to the proposed measure: “Confiscating cars from repeat drink drivers,” 83 per cent of Kiwis supported the idea. Ten per cent had a neutral stance or no opinion, and six per cent were opposed.
New Zealand judges can currently confiscate your vehicle if you are charged with drunk driving. However, they must consider any “undue hardships” seizing a car has on the victim, their business or work, or anyone else who uses the vehicle.
Even so, the NZABC want to see more done to remove repeat offenders from Kiwi roads. They say their latest survey suggests the general population has a similar opinion.
“Our research shows that Kiwis want more to be done to reduce drink driving through both preventative measures and consequences,” Council Executive Director Bridget MacDonald said.
In 2020, alcohol was a factor in 90 road deaths in New Zealand. Combined with speed, driving under the influence of alcohol is a leading cause of death and severe injury.
Repeat drink driving offenders can be issued a Zero Alcohol License by the court.
Similarly, they can receive an Alcohol Interlock Sentence, meaning they must only use vehicles with an approved interlock system. These devices force drivers to blow a zero alcohol reading into a breathalyzer for the car to start.
In 2020, these systems stopped 37,000 attempts by high-risk drivers from starting and driving a car.
However, the NZABC believes more can still be done. Their survey says 66 per cent of New Zealanders support having interlock devices installed on all vehicles.
In this case, 12 per cent of participants opposed the idea. The rest were all neutral.
MacDonald says interlocking devices will play an essential role in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Road to Zero campaign, which targets having zero road deaths by 2050.
“[NZTA] is taking a multifaceted approach to its road safety strategy, from infrastructure to vehicle safety,” MacDonald said.
“It also places emphasis on targeted education, public awareness campaigns and empowering local communities to develop local solutions.
“The use of interlock devices are another tool in its toolkit to help keep our roads safer, particularly from high-risk or recidivist offenders.”
Put simply, MacDonald says it is imperative people think about their decisions before hitting the road.
“We each have a responsibility to make better drinking decisions to keep ourselves and others safe on our roads.
“If we choose to have a drink, we need to leave the car at home and plan ahead for a safe way home, whether it’s a taxi, bus or a designated driver.
“If we choose to drive, then we don’t drink – it really is as simple as that.”