Legal implications

Research indicates that driving after consuming any level of alcohol impairs your ability to drive safely; you could put your own and other people's lives at serious risk.

The limits have changed as of 01/12/2014. It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. Current legal limits are:

  • Drivers under 20 years - 0mcg per litre of breath or 0mg per 100mls blood.
  • Drivers over 20 years - 250mcg per litre of breath or 50mg per 100mls blood.

The legislation creates a new offence for drivers with a breath alcohol level between 251-400mcg, who will get a a $200 fine and 50 demerit points. Anyone who refuses or fails to undergo an evidential breath test, will face a $700 fine and 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.

Drink-driving is considered a serious offence and carries tough penalties, especially for repeat offenders. Third and subsequent offenders face maximum fines of $6,000, prison terms of up to two years, and a one year minimum disqualification from driving.

If you cause injury or death while drink-driving, you can be fined up to $10,000 for driving carelessly while under the influence (no breath or blood test needed); up to $20,000 where a breath or blood-alcohol test shows you were over the limit and you could be sentenced to prison.

New Zealand does not have a minimum legal drinking age. However, what we do have is a minimum legal age for purchasing alcohol.

  • It is illegal for anyone under 18 years old to purchase alcohol, and
  • It is illegal for anyone other than a parent or guardian to supply alcohol to those under 18.

The current maximum penalty for selling liquor to a minor is $10,000.