New Drink-Driving Laws Hit The Road

New Drink-Driving Laws Hit The Road

As Farmer Freddy makes his way back to the house after a productive, but long day on the farm, he spots his daughter coming up the drive.

“All set for the BBQ tonight?” asks Pebbles, as she approaches.

“I had forgotten that was on tonight,” replies Freddy, with a wink.

“An opportunity to eat meat and drink beer with your mates – I sincerely doubt that,” comments Pebbles. “What time is everyone due to arrive?”

“Very soon, actually. Which reminds me – what’s the story with the new drink-driving laws? They’ve lowered the limit now, right?”

“That’s right,” replies Pebbles, the lawyer.  “So you and your friends will need to be extra careful with how much you drink. As always, the primary concern should be other people’s safety on the road, but you can also end up with some pretty heavy penalties if you find yourself over the limit.” 

“From 1 December,” continues Pebbles, “the Transport Amendment Act (no 2) 2014 comes into force, which lowers the breath alcohol limit for adult drivers (aged 20 years and over) from 400 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath, to 250mcg. The blood alcohol limit will reduce from 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100ml of blood, to 50mg.”

“What’s the difference between alcohol per litre of breath and alcohol per 100ml of blood?” asks Freddy.

“Well, there are two ways of assessing the alcohol limit for driving,” explains Pebbles.

“The first is by testing a person’s breath, which measures the number of micrograms of alcohol (mcg) per litre of breath, and the second is by testing a person’s blood, which measures the number of milligrams of alcohol (mg) per 100 millilitres of blood.”

“Although the measures appear different,” continues Pebbles, “they are essentially the same. They both measure the same level of alcohol for drink driving purposes.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had to do a blood test,” says Freddy.

“Yes, well breath testing is used for both screening and evidential purposes. Blood testing is usually only used as a check on the accuracy of the breath testing, or if a person refuses to do a breath test.”

“That’s interesting, Pebbles. You’ll have to come explain that to the lads tonight – not that any of them would be stupid enough to drink drive,” states Freddy definitively.

“I don’t doubt that, Dad,” replies Pebbles. “But it’s always worth reminding people.”

“I agree,” states Freddy. “So putting aside the obvious potential for something really horrible to happen to either the driver or to someone else on the road, how have the penalties changed?”

“The information which is available on the Ministry of Transport website says that drivers who commit an offence between 251-400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath will face an infringement fee of $200 and will receive 50 demerit points. Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years receive a three month driver licence suspension.”

“If you have more than 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, you will be summoned to appear in court and, on conviction, can be imprisoned for up to three months or fined up to $4,500. In addition, the court will order that you be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence for a period of six months or more,” advises Pebbles.

“Right, well I’ll be having a good talking to anyone tonight who is thinking of driving when they shouldn’t,” confirms Freddy. “Now come give me a hand getting set up.”

“As always, that’s what I’m here for,” replies Pebbles with a grin.


The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document. 

If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser. 

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