Spike in New Year's Day drink-driving offences

There was a sharp spike in drink-driving offences in NSW on New Year's Day this year, compared with last year.

Sixty-three drivers were caught over the blood-alcohol limit on Tuesday – 37 more than on the first day of 2012.

This included two fathers who had young children in the car.

Police also nabbed 690 speeding motorists and issued 1212 fines for other traffic offences on day 12 of Operation Safe Arrival, the annual Christmas and New Year traffic enforcement initiative.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Superintendent Bob Ryan said the spike in New Year's Day drink-driving charges was of extreme concern.

“It's simply alarming that, despite all the safety warnings about the dangers of drink-driving, there were 63 people that chose to get behind the wheel while drunk and put not only themselves but other innocent road users at extreme risk,” he said.

“So far this holiday season we have breathalysed 447,230 motorists and charged 676 of them with drink-driving offences – that is 126 fewer charges than for the same period last year.

“It's obvious yesterday's spike in offences is the result of partygoers getting on the drink to welcome in the New Year and then jumping in the car and driving home.

“It's incredibly irresponsible, dangerous and criminal that anyone would drive in that state."

In one incident, a 49-year-old woman returned a breath-analysis reading of 0.278 – more than five times the legal limit – after being pulled over by police in Banora Point, on the state's far north coast, about midnight on Tuesday. She was charged with high-range drink-driving and her licence was confiscated.

In a second incident, an unlicensed 33-year-old father was caught drink-driving at Riverstone, in Sydney's north-west, just before 6pm on Tuesday.

The man, who had his five-year-old daughter in the car, returned a breath-analysis reading of 0.090. He was charged with mid-range drink-driving and unlicensed driving.

In a third incident, a 25-year-old West Australian man was caught driving while intoxicated with his nine-year-old son in the car on the Princes Highway at Fairy Meadow, near Wollongong, about 9.30am. He was charged with mid-range drink-driving.

The double-demerit period concluded at midnight on Monday but police are continuing their crackdown on law-breaking motorists.

So far the NSW road toll for the holiday period is 12. NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced the provisional 2012 road toll was at 370 – one of the lowest on record, but still up six from 2011.

The story Spike in New Year's Day drink-driving offences first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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