From 1 December 2014 the breath alcohol limit for adults was lowered from 400 micrograms per litre of breath to 250 micrograms. The blood alcohol limit was lowered from 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood to 50 milligrams per 100 milliliters. These big changes may catch some drivers by surprise this year. To get to grips with the changes to the drink driving laws, Queen City Litigation and criminal lawyer Jack Cheng explores the new standards and some of the key differences in how the laws work. To read Jacks article on Alcohol Limits as a print and tablet friendly PDF click here
Jack Cheng is a litigation expert in the formidable team at Queen City Law. Over the years Jack has accumulated considerable experience in the field of criminal law and is familiar with many of the nuances of the drink driving laws in New Zealand. He frequently appears in the District Court and High Court criminal jurisdiction as lead or second counsel. Jack has acted in some of the most high profile and serious criminal trials in New Zealand. Born in Taiwan and educated in New Zealand, Jack is fluent in both Mandarin and English.
From 1 December 2014 the breath alcohol limit for adults was lowered from 400 micrograms per litre of breath to 250 micrograms. The blood alcohol limit was lowered from 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood to 50 milligrams per 100 milliliters. For drivers under 20 the limit stays at zero.
The latest amendment to the Land Transport Act also introduces a new offence where a driver fails an evidential breath test between 251 mcg and 400 mcg. In such cases you will receive a mandatory infringement fee of $200 and 50 demerit points but no criminal conviction.
To give you some ideas, according to a recent article published by New Zealand Herald, a driver may exceed the new lower limit after consuming as little as 1.5 glasses of wine. One must remember that there are many factors which will determine how quickly alcohol is absorbed into your system, such as gender, body type or whether you had food or not. One must also remember that even a small amount of alcohol may impact on your reaction.
If you know you are going to drink, the best practice is always to arrange for alternative transportation such as having a friend as the designated driver or calling a cab. Chances are either option would be much cheaper than any fine you would receive if caught driving over the legal limit.
However, if you are stopped by the Police at a checkpoint you should remain calm and co-operate in the screening test. If you do fail a breath screening test, you will be required to have an evidential breath test (usually at a booze bus or at a Police station) and you will be given your rights and an opportunity to contact a lawyer for legal advice. It is strongly advised that you exercise your rights and speak to a lawyer so he or she can guide you through the procedure and make sure your interest is best looked after.
Drink driving charges are not always easy to challenge because defences are limited and are often quite technical. However, a competent lawyer will be able to help you identify these and defend the charge accordingly. Even if the charge cannot be defended a competent lawyer is still able to assist you in keeping the disqualification to a minimum and obtaining a limited licence/alcohol interlock licence where possible.
So if you drink, don’t drive. And if you do get into trouble you are still better off getting legal advice. Don’t leave it to your own device because it is “just a traffic charge”.
If you are confused about your traffic offence or you would like to challenge your charge and feel the procedures around your processing were compromised or illegal please contact the disputes and litigation team at Queen City Law. We will give your case expert attention and attempt to secure a successful result for you. Our objective is to put your best interests and commercial objectives at the forefront. We focus on understanding our clients and the issues then work with the client to develop a strategic plan for the best possible outcome quickly.To read more about our litigation services click here. To read more about Jack Cheng click here.