Alcohol and drugs seriously affect your driving by slowing your reaction times and affecting your senses and judgement. Alcohol is the second biggest contributing factor to road crashes in New Zealand.
Being a responsible driver means never driving when you're over the permitted blood alcohol level or when you've consumed drugs that might impair your judgement.
In 2017, alcohol or drugs were a contributing factor in 123 fatal crashes, and 448 serious injury crashes and 973 minor injury crashes.
You risk causing death and serious injury to yourself and other people if you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, both legal and illegal.
Once absorbed into your bloodstream, alcohol enters your vital organs, including your brain. The result is slowed reactions, dulled judgement and vision, all of which impair your ability to drive. Drugs have a similar effect. Both alcohol and drugs can also increase the risks of fatigue.
At 250 micrograms per litre of breath or 50 milligrams per 100ml of blood (the current legal limit for drivers 20 years or older) you're still twice as likely to have a crash as a driver with a zero blood alcohol level.
Some of the extensive costs of drink or drug-affected driving related crashes are:
death and injury
ostracism (for the driver)
long-term financial costs
legal charges – ranging from manslaughter to 'over the limit' charges
penalties – including imprisonment, loss of licence and/or disqualification and fines
loss of insurance cover.
Everyone's perception of how much they can drink is different, but the law is precise: if you're over 20 years of age the legal blood alcohol limit for driving is no more than 50 milligrams of alcohol for every 100mls of blood.
There is a zero alcohol limit if you are under 20. That means if you drive after consuming even one drink, you can be charged with drink-driving.
Be prepared: if you're planning on drinking, plan not to drive.
Don't go along with other people's bad decisions to drive while they're impaired by alcohol or drugs.
See more guidelines from the Health Promotion Agency(external link)
Keep off the drugs
Ask a doctor or pharmacist if the drugs you are taking could affect your driving ability. It is illegal to drive while impaired by drugs – even legally prescribed drugs.
Want to know more?
Read about legal alcohol limits and penalties for drink and drug-affected driving in The official New Zealand road code.