Lower alcohol limits a game-changer for road safety says NZTA

The NZ Transport Agency says lower legal alcohol limits which come into force in just over two weeks’ time will begin making our roads safer from day one, providing safer journeys for all New Zealanders as the country heads into the festive season.

Legislation passed earlier this year means that 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 is a game-changer for road safety in New Zealand, and the lower limit will be welcomed by a clear majority because 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 clear message to those who would put themselves and others at risk by driving while affected by alcohol. 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. With the holiday season fast approaching, the message is clear – if you’re going to drink don’t drive, and if you’re going to drive don’t drink.”

The Transport Agency has already begun a public information campaign to remind New Zealanders of the change, with promotion kicking off last week with the rollout of posters and coasters in pubs and bars. Promotional activity will be stepped up from this Sunday (November 16) with 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 – the basics

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:

  • the amount of alcohol in their breath is more than 250 micrograms per litre of breath.
  • the amount of alcohol in their blood is more than 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood

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.

Lower alcohol limits – the penalties

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 here. The Transport Agency’s offences and penalties page also provides information about the infringement fine for adult drivers 20 years and over who exceed the limits.

Lower alcohol limits – the advertising

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.

  • Prior to 1 December 2014, our message advises that a law change is coming with a simple focus on the date it changes:
    Lower alcohol limit for drivers 20 and over December 1
  • From 1 December 2014, the message will change to:
    Lower alcohol limit for drivers 20 and over now applies.

The bulk of the campaign (television, radio and outdoor advertising) launches on Sunday 16 November 2014. However, bar posters and coasters are already visible in bars and online search activity has begun.

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.

SOURCE: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/media/releases/3749/news.html