An alcohol interlock pilot programme being introduced by the Department of Corrections is a positive step in preventing drink driving, says the Automobile Association of New Zealand.

The pilot programme aims to fund interlocks for at least 100 drink driving offenders as well as introducing other interventions like education and referrals for treatment for more than 1300 offenders.

“The AA has been calling for greater use of alcohol interlocks and rehabilitation for drink drivers for some time so the Department of Corrections should be applauded for taking action,” says AA General Manager Motoring Affairs Mike Noon.

While it has been pleasing to see the number of drink drivers caught in New Zealand dropping significantly in recent years – down from 31,362 offenders in 2010 to 20,129 in 2014 – the proportion of repeat offenders has been increasing.

“The current catch and release approach is not working for a lot of drink drivers that have serious alcohol problems.

“Alcohol interlocks, which physically prevent a driver with alcohol in their system from using their car, have been proven to be the most effective tool in reducing reoffending. That’s why the AA wants interlocks to be mandatory for repeat drink drivers or those caught at extremely high levels.

“Assessment and treatment for people with alcohol problems is just as important to actually address the root causes of their drink driving.”