“Of particular concern”, said an official police statement, “is the large number of excess alcohol cases that are being adjourned to following months”.
The statement goes on to reveal that 20 offenders pleaded guilty to their respective drink-driving offences and were convicted and penalised – but a further 21 drivers had their cases adjourned.
“These are drivers who have been similarly busted for excess breath or blood alcohol but return to the road while their cases are pending. That includes repeat offenders.”
Community members have already commented on this dismaying state of affairs, with some suggesting that drivers’ licenses should be handed over to the court until each case reappears.
Suggestions were also made that higher fines, more severe penalties, cancellation of licenses, and even law changes should be looked at to combat the growing drink-driving scourge.
Earlier this year, the Cook Islands Police Service severely criticised driver behaviour on Rarotonga after taking an extra hard line on road safety over the festive period.
Over the two-week holiday period from December 22 to January 5, 48 drivers were forbidden from using their vehicles because they had been drinking alcohol, and in total more than 200 traffic fines were issued.
“Police are taking a hard look at these figures for enforcement purposes, but a bigger change in attitude must come from the people who use the road,” said police spokesperson Trevor Pitt at the time.