Drink-drive limits lowered

Drink drive limits will be lowered from December, after new legislation was passed through Parliament last night.

From December 1, the alcohol limit will lower from 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, to 250mcg for drivers over 20.

The blood alcohol limit will reduce from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood, to 50mg.

A zero alcohol tolerance for drivers under 20 was introduced in 2011.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said the law change sent a “clear signal that consuming alcohol at high levels and then driving is unacceptable”.

“Changes delivered by this legislation will save lives and reduce injuries, and they demonstrate the government’s commitment to improving road safety,” he said.

The legislation also creates a new offence for drivers with a breath alcohol level between 251-400mcg.
Offenders with a breath alcohol level within that lower range would receive an infringement fee of $200 and 50 demerit points.

Drivers who refused or failed to undergo to a breath test, would be fined $700 as well as handed 50 demerit points.

Anyone who accumulated 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years, would see their licence suspended for three months.

The law change comes after a 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 has said in the past.

Data collected by Police over the past 22 months showed 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.

The Government announced the law change after Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway’s bill to do the same was drawn from the ballot in October last year.