Drink driving, also known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), is a serious issue in New Zealand. It refers to the act of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and it can have serious consequences for both the driver and others on the road.
According to the New Zealand Transport Agency, alcohol is a factor in around 25% of all road fatalities in the country. In 2019, there were 81 deaths and 707 serious injuries caused by drink driving crashes. These incidents not only have a devastating impact on the lives of those involved, but they also have a significant financial cost, with the total cost of alcohol-related crashes estimated at around $2.1 billion per year.
In New Zealand, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while driving is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. This means that it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 50 milligrams or above. However, it is important to note that even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to drive safely, and it is recommended that people avoid drinking any alcohol before driving.
The consequences of drink driving in New Zealand can be severe. If a person is caught drink driving, they may face fines, licence disqualification, and even imprisonment. The severity of the penalty depends on the level of the offender’s BAC and their prior driving history. For example, a first-time offender with a BAC of between 50 and 80 milligrams may face a fine of up to $4,500 and a disqualification period of six months. A second or subsequent offender with a BAC of 80 milligrams or above may face a fine of up to $6,000 and a disqualification period of up to two years.
In addition to legal penalties, drink driving can also have serious personal and social consequences. A drink driving conviction can affect a person’s employment, as many employers have policies in place that prohibit employees from driving while under the influence. It can also lead to social isolation and damage relationships with friends and family.
To reduce the number of drink driving incidents in New Zealand, the government and various organizations have implemented a range of initiatives. These include public education campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of drink driving, random breath testing to catch drink drivers on the road, and the use of alcohol interlocks, which require drivers to blow into a device to measure their BAC before starting their vehicle.
In addition to these measures, it is important for individuals to take responsibility for their own actions and make the decision to never drink and drive. If you are planning to drink alcohol, arrange for a designated driver or alternative transportation. If you are unable to do so, it is better to stay where you are and wait until you are sober before driving.
Drink driving is a serious and preventable issue in New Zealand, and it is important for all drivers to be aware of the risks and consequences. By making the responsible choice to never drink and drive, we can all help to make our roads safer for everyone.