Drink drive limit lowered

November 07, 2013 at 11:30 PM

Article source: www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/9360519/Drink-drive-limit-lowered

Drivers who exceed a new lower drink-drive limit will be hit with instant fines and demerit points, the Government says, but insists Kiwis will still be able to have "one or two" drinks before driving.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee today revealed that Cabinet had lower the legal blood alcohol limit from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood for drivers aged over 20.

However, drivers caught between the new limit and the old one will not be subject to court action. Instead, police will be able to issue penalties on the spot.

The fines were likely to be $200 and 50 demerit points. This means two infringements within two years would see drivers lose their licences, Brownlee said.

Currently a first or second drink-driving offence that does not cause injury results in a six-month driving disqualification and a fine, typically around $630.

Brownlee said Cabinet was conscious of the need to reach a balance between ''the desire to indicate that we want people to be more cautious about the level of alcohol in their blood when they get behind the wheel and in fact determining that they are at a criminal level''.

A two-year review of the impact of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit by 30 milligrams suggested that each year 3.4 lives would be saved and 64 injury-causing crashes would be avoided. It would save $200 million in social costs over 10 years, Brownlee said.

"Data collected by Police over the past 22 months shows 53 drivers were involved in fatal and serious injury crashes with blood alcohol readings of between 51 and 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood," he said.

Prime Minister John Key said the new rules reflected the international trends to new lower limits, ''the weight of public opinion'' and research which showed overall benefits.

''What this decision means is that you will still be able to have a couple of drinks with dinner, when you go out. It's not going to prevent your ability to engage in normal social activity,'' Key said.

''But it does send a message that we are serious about alcohol-related harm on our roads.''

Category: Road Rules