New Zealand Law Society - Police officer directed drunk man to drive to station

Police officer directed drunk man to drive to station

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The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found that an officer directed a man he suspected to be intoxicated to drive to a Police station, where the man failed a breath test.

This incident occurred in Te Araroa on 2 September 2018, after the Police were tipped off about erratic driving. The officer stopped the truck and recognised the driver from an incident several days earlier when the same man had been verbally aggressive to him.

The IPCA report says the officer said he thought it safer to deal with him elsewhere, so directed him to drive to the Police station, which was less than a kilometre away. He told the Authority he did this because he intended to speak to the man about the driving complaint and arrest him for his earlier threatening behaviour. However, records indicated that the officer also suspected the man had been drinking before directing him to drive to the Police station.

"An officer directing a motorist to drive, knowing or suspecting the motorist to have been drinking, is highly unusual and fraught with risk. While the Authority accepts the officer had valid reasons for wanting to speak with the man at the Police station, it does not agree with the officer's decision to direct the man to drive there,” says Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

The Authority found that the officer should have remained in the driveway and arrested the man for threatening behaviour or, if he felt unsafe doing so, left the address and dealt with him later.