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Motorists not getting the drink drive message as silly season approaches

Tuesday 6 December 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Crime, National

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Motorists not getting the drink drive message as silly season approaches
Police are fed up with trying to hammer home the same message; if you drink then drive, you are an idiot, after three confirmed and three suspected drink drive incidents on Rarotonga over the weekend. 22120502

Motorists are not getting the drink drive message following another weekend of chaos on Rarotonga roads.

Multiple incidents were reported around the island with police releasing high alcohol breath readings to Cook Islands News on Monday.  

Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said another bout of crashes is setting an unacceptable pattern of “stupid behaviour” on Rarotonga, putting everyone using the road at risk. 

“The habitual drink-driving each weekend will result in a tragedy as long as drivers continue to think they’re invincible,” Pitt said. 

“But they’re also ignoring the safety of innocent people, who deserve something better than the utter disregard currently being displayed. 

“Don’t be an idiot.”

Three drivers were arrested and blood results are pending on three others.

Cook Islands Police officers, Commander of Frontline Police, Inspector Solomona Tuaati, Commander of Prevention, Inspector Maevarangi Kirikava, and Sergeant Sharon Kareroa at the Pacific Community Law Enforcement Cooperation (PCLEC) conference in Brisbane.  22120503
Cook Islands Police officers, Commander of Frontline Police, Inspector Solomona Tuaati, Commander of Prevention, Inspector Maevarangi Kirikava, and Sergeant Sharon Kareroa at the Pacific Community Law Enforcement Cooperation (PCLEC) conference in Brisbane. 22120503

The first incident occurred on Friday about 9.40pm and involved three vehicles near the town playground. 

All three vehicles were travelling in the same direction and collided end to end, when the one in front slowed down to make a turn. 

The driver at the most rear tested over the legal limit for alcohol.

Pitt confirmed their reading was 510 micrograms per litre of breath.

The driver was then charged with drink driving and careless driving – the legal limit is 250 micrograms per litre of breath.

Early Saturday, police were called about 1.45am when a pickup truck crashed at the Takuvaine roundabout. 

Again, a driver tested over the legal limit – 440 micrograms per litre of breath.

At 4.10am on Saturday, two vehicles collided in town near the Tourism Office. 

The driver of a pickup was admitted to hospital with head injuries. The hospitalised driver has a blood test result pending.

The other driver was arrested after returning a test over the legal limit – 450 micrograms per litre of breath.

Just to add to the stress, two more crashes were reported early Saturday, one in Tikioki about 6.40am, then another in Avatiu about 7.50am.

Pitt said those two cases are pending.

On Sunday, police made an arrest based on a blood test result from a previous motor vehicle crash, he said.

Pitt has previously raised concerns about the state of driver behaviour on the island in recent months.

Increasing cases of crashes, domestic violence, theft and burglary are adding pressure to frontline police officers who are already anticipating a busy end of year season ahead. 

The main concerns are crashes, over 30 per cent of incidents, domestic violence, nearly 10 per cent, and theft 8 per cent, and burglary 8 per cent, according to latest figures.

Latest figures show police have already attended to more than 150 motor vehicle crashes in 2022 – equal to the annual totals for 2020 and 2021 – both years recording 150 crashes.

The total number of crashes reported to Police in 2019 was 235 – more than 15 per cent lower than 2018, and 7 per cent lower than 2017.

Meanwhile, a trio of police officers have wrapped up a conference in Australia, touching on a range of training and project planning initiatives for the Pacific. 

Commander of Frontline Police, Inspector Solomona Tuaati, Commander of Prevention, Inspector Maevarangi Kirikava, and Sergeant Sharon Kareroa, have been in Brisbane over the past week attending a combined regional gathering of the Pacific Community Law Enforcement Cooperation (PCLEC) and Pacific Police Training Advisory Group (PPTAG). 

Pitt said the PCLEC framework assists a coordinated effort to develop police capabilities across the region in priority areas. 

And PPTAG focuses on the design, development, and delivery of training, appropriate to the needs of its members.