Govt Backs Off New Laws


The government has backed off reducing the drink driving limits for all drivers before the next election.
Cabinet decided today to do “more research” before making any such decision.

But it’s introducing a zero drink drive limit for recidivist drink drivers and a zero drink drive limit for drivers under 20 years of age.

Transport minister Steven Joyce told a post-Cabinet news conference the issue was a challenging one that had been debated for the past 25 or so years.
The Minister said the government intends to make a final call on whether or not to lower the legal blood alcohol limit after conducting New Zealand-specific research on the level of risk posed by drivers with a blood alcohol limit of between 0.05 and 0.08.
“Part of the research will be about ascertaining the actual number of serious and fatal crashes caused by those drivers with a blood or breath alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08.
“The government will make a law change to allow that data to be collected by police in these crashes.”

This research will be carried out over a period of two years following the law change.

Mr Joyce says the argument around the adult blood alcohol limit is a finely balanced one.

“We need to ensure that New Zealanders understand the difference between 0.05 and 0.08 and what the likely impact a change would have on the road toll.

“Most New Zealanders, when asked, agree that the drink drive limit should be at a level of alcohol consumption that equates to a 0.05 limit.  However, when you ask them whether the current 0.08 limit should be lowered to 0.05, they are split on the issue.

“I’ve said all along as Transport Minister that road safety measures only work if they have the broad support of road users - and we’d want to be sure New Zealanders understand the benefits of a change and fully support it before proceeding.”

Cabinet has decided on

  • A zero drink drive limit for recidivist drink drivers
  • A zero drink drive limit for drivers under 20 years of age
  • Much tougher penalties for serious offences causing death and drink driving causing death
  • The introduction of alcohol interlocks for repeat drink-drivers.
  • “By targeting those identified as most likely to break the law - namely those with a history of offending and young people - we’re confident we’ll have a significant impact,” says Mr Joyce.




    1. Kurt says:

      .80 mgs of blood or 400 mgs of alcohol per litre of breath is a very high limit, way way above the mythical couple of drinks too.

      Based on the Ministers comments the only reason I can think of this government not amending this legislation was that it did not pass its policy popularity test model of deciding what laws will pass and those that won’t.

      As per normal they floated the idea of lowering the limit and this was the most sense I have seen in years on drink driving but clearly Nationals polling indicated it may cost votes.

      Trying to claim that there is not enough research done in this area is absolutely ridiculous and blatantly misleading.

      Why for example is a 19 year old driver not safe with any alcohol but a 20 year old can get almost rolling drunk and still come in under 400? There is no logical argument. Alcohol effects persons because of their size, metabolism, tolerance, how tired they are etc etc.

      Just because they attain the age of 20 does not mark any difference whatsoever. Its either safe for all persons to drink or its not. Its either safe at one limit or its not.

      Yet another dumb bit of logic from our transport minister but a very important chance to make roads safer lost.

    2. rtc says:

      Agreed, almost everywhere else has a lower limit than in NZ, there’s plenty of research that it’s dangerous, why does NZ have to reinvent the wheel and do the ‘research’ again. It’s clearly because they don’t want to do anything that may save lives but will cost them a few votes. I guess it also doesn’t fit with their policy that the only transport choice NZers should have is driving……

    3. karl says:

      “Part of the research will be about ascertaining the actual number of serious and fatal crashes caused by those drivers with a blood or breath alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08.”

      Totally ignoring the fact that lowering the level will (eventually) lower the social perception of what is acceptable alcohol consumption “across the band”.

      This is a craven government. They will rather let you DIE than do something that some heavy-drinking, car-driving voters may be unhappy with. I wish I did not have to feel so drastically, but that is what I feel about them.

    4. George D says:

      Willing to kill New Zealanders for a few votes. Sick.

    5. Matt says:

      This is the same Minister of Roads who called (rightly) Labour dithering and vacillating because they didn’t bring in the cellphone ban despite significant overseas evidence of its benefits. The DUI-limit issue has been around for longer than commercial cellphone availability, the evidence is overwhelming, but still that’s not good enough for Joyce. Double-standards much?
      Not that we should be surprised, really.


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