Drink driving a dying habit

NEW ERA: Harol Crozier takes the first random breath test in Lismore.
NEW ERA: Harol Crozier takes the first random breath test in Lismore.

CONSIDERING Lismore sporting great Harold Crozier is a teetotaller and an ardent believer in pubs closing at 10pm, it was a strange irony he was the first person breath tested in Lismore.

Breath-testing technology has come a long way since the day in 1973 Mr Crozier was pulled up by Lismore police around 11am and told to blow.

He had to breathe into the whistle device with an attached plastic bag three times before the policeman could get a reading. It took about seven minutes, he recalled.

"They just pulled me up and said 'this is the very first time we've breathalysed anybody'... it was a daunting experience because I've never had a drink in my life."

"The horrible part of the deal was I knew I had never had a drink... and yet I was the first one getting breathalysed."

"I said to the police: 'this is a waste of time, really'," he said.

"He thought that was pretty forward of me, he had a bit of a chuckle."

The policeman was probably just as nervous as Mr Crozier.

"It created quite a stir - particularly when I'd never had a drink in my life - most people knew that."

The days of mobile RBTs and ad campaigns targeting drink driving were a long way in the future, and it was a foreign concept to Lismore.

"People just drank willy nilly, they got pissed and they drove their cars."

"That was standard procedure in those days... drink driving was the standard go."

"It's only in recent years that people have stopped doing that."

The baseball, cricket and golf star used to work at the Alstonville Federal Hotel in his late teens in the 1940s and remembered the pub being particularly popular because it was outside the 10 mile (16km) radius from Lismore that allowed pubs to stay open after 6pm.

"Friday night was the usual night that they played up."

"It got very crowded, they were huge nights," he said.

It was a given that punters would drive home afterwards, some especially drunk from an extra long night.


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