High hopes for lower alcohol limits

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The lower legal alcohol limits, which come into effect in less than two weeks, will improve driving behaviour in the region, Oamaru Police Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy says.

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 100 millitres of blood).

The alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 will remain at zero.

This brings New Zealand law into line with the limits already in place in the majority of OECD countries.

Senior Sergeant McCoy said having lower alcohol limits will mean driver behaviour in the region will be improved but people need to be aware of these levels and make sure they have alternative travel arrangements if they want to drink.

NZ Transport Agency Road Safety director Ernst Zöllner said the legislation will be a game-changer for road safety in New Zealand and 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.”

NZTA has already begun a public information campaign to remind New Zealanders of the change, with promotion kicking off earlier this month with the roll-out of posters and coasters in pubs and bars.

Promotional activity was stepped up yesterday with television, radio and outdoor advertising all focusing 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.