The NZ Transport Agency says lower legal alcohol limits which come into force next Monday (December 1) will mean safer journeys for all New Zealanders as the country heads into the festive season.
Under legislation passed earlier this year, from December 1 the legal alcohol limit for drivers aged 20 years and over will be lowered from 400 to 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath (or from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100millitres of blood), bringing New Zealand law into line with the limits already in place in the majority of OECD countries. The alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 will remain at zero.
Transport Agency Road Safety Director Ernst Zöllner says the lower alcohol limit has been welcomed by a clear majority of New Zealanders who understand that it will save lives and prevent serious injuries caused by drunk drivers.
"Drink-driving inflicts a huge amount of pain and suffering on New Zealand families and communities, and this change sends a very clear message to those who would put others at risk by driving while affected by alcohol – if you’re going to drink don’t drive, and if you’re going to drive don’t drink. That’s a message that is especially relevant as the country heads into the holiday season.
“Together with other recent changes including zero alcohol limits for teens, alcohol interlocks and new penalties for serious and repeat drink-driving offenders, this measure will make New Zealand roads safer for everyone.”
The Transport Agency has begun a public information campaign to remind New Zealanders of the change, including television, radio and outdoor advertising all focussing on the simple message of lower alcohol limits for drivers 20 and over from December 1.
Reducing deaths and serious injuries from drink-driving is a key plank of the Government’s Safer Journeys strategy, which looks across the entire road system to improve safety through safer roads and roadsides, safer speeds, safer vehicles and safer road use.
Lower alcohol limits for adult drivers are being introduced as part of the Government’s Safer Journeys strategy, which aims to significantly reduce deaths and serious injuries from road crashes by 2020.
From Monday 1 December 2014, the alcohol limit for drivers aged 20 years and over will be lowered. This change means that drivers aged 20 years and over must not drive if:
For drivers under the age of 20 years, the limit remains at zero.
There is no ‘safe’ amount of alcohol for driving. Even small amounts of alcohol affect your judgement, and the ability to drive safely begins to deteriorate after even one drink.
Further information about the lower alcohol limit for adult drivers, including frequently asked questions, is available on the Ministry of Transport's website(external link).
Drivers who are over 400micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, or 80milligrams of alcohol per 100millilitres of blood, will continue to face criminal sanctions as is currently the case.
Drivers who fail an evidential breath test between 251 and 400micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath will receive an infringement notice with a $200 infringement fee and 50 demerit points.
Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years will receive a three month driver licence suspension. An infringement offence will not result in the driver receiving a criminal conviction.
Read more about demerit points(external link) here. The Transport Agency’s offences and penalties(external link) page also provides information about the infringement fine for adult drivers 20 years and over who exceed the limits.
The objective of the Transport Agency’s promotional campaign is simple – to ensure that every driver in New Zealand understands that the alcohol limit for drivers 20 years and over is being lowered.
The television, radio and outdoor advertising launched on Sunday 16 November 2014.
The short timeframe for the change message is deliberate. We want to advise drivers of the change when it is relevant to them with a clear emphasis on the date the change comes into effect.
For more information please contact:
NZ Transport Agency
T: 04 894 6285
M: 021 276 3222