Drink-drive limits to be lowered

Lower drink-drive limits, which will come into force later this year, will save lives, the NZ Transport Agency says.

Legislation lowering the adult drink-driving limits from December 1 passed its third and final reading in Parliament last night.

The Land Transport Amendment Bill 2013 lowers the adult breath alcohol limit from 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath to 250mcg and cuts the blood alcohol limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg.

NZTA road safety director Ernst Zollner said the change would save lives and prevent serious injuries, with more than 1500 deaths and 6700 serious injuries sustained in alcohol-related crashes on New Zealand roads in the past 10 years.

"Drink-driving inflicts a huge amount of pain and suffering on innocent road users, and this change sends a clear message to those who would put others at risk by driving drunk," he said.

"Together with other recent changes including zero alcohol limits for teens and new penalties for serious and repeat drink-driving offenders this measure will make New Zealand roads safer for everyone."

The lower blood alcohol limit also brought New Zealand law into line with the limits already in place in the majority of other OECD countries, Mr Zollner said.

The legislation also creates a new offence for drivers with a breath alcohol level between 251-400mcg, resulting in penalties of an infringement fee of $200 and 50 demerit points. For those drivers who refuse or fail to undergo to an evidential breath test, the infringement fee will rise to $700 as well as 50 demerit points.

Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years receive a three month driver's licence suspension.


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