1 Dec 2014

Lowered drink drive limit hits roads

9:12 am on 1 December 2014

Police say they do not want to prosecute anyone under new drink-driving limits, pleading with people to change their habits instead.

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Some motorists believe the new lower drink drive limit is a ploy to make more money. Photo: CORBIS

The new rules, which came into effect first thing this morning, nearly halve the blood alcohol limit, from 80 milligrams down to 50 milligrams per millilitre of blood.

The average adult can now only have two standard drinks over two hours before they are over the limit.

Those who breach the limit but are still under 80 milligrams per millilitre of blood will not lose their licence, but they will get a $200 fine and fifty demerit points.

Most patrons at Galbraith's Alehouse in Auckland felt it was a change that had to happen, including Ellen-Jane Waetford.

"Hopefully it will reduce the devastation or carnage or grief and trauma and so on that alcohol actually does contribute to with travel."

Some were sceptical though, saying the people who drink heavily and drive would keep doing so.

Rural pubs expect to lose patrons

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said he was not expecting the changes to affect trade at most bars and pubs.

"We believe that most New Zealanders have already adapted to the change. Those that'll be most concerned [are] our country members, where alternative transport is problematic."

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Photo: CORBIS

That problem was worrying Bruce Austin, the owner of the Palace Hotel in Te Aroha, in Waikato.

Mr Austin said many of his regular customers who stop in for a few beers after work said they would steer clear now for fear of breaching the new limit.

He did not think the change had anything to do with safety.

"It's just another way of getting some revenue, I think. I think that's proven by the fact that you don't lose your licence, you just have a fine and get demerit points."

But the assistant commissioner for road policing, Dave Cliff, said that was not the case.

"The effect when they introduced this lower level in Australia is it pulls down all drinking. It actually means that those at the very high levels, who present the highest risk, also moderate drinking ... so it has a really significant effect right across the drinking population."

Mr Cliff said the change was not just a revenue-gathering ploy.

"Our hope is that people change their behaviour and we don't see a big rise in the number of people who are being either prosecuted or issued infringement notices."

The zero tolerance alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 is to remain in place.

From today, there is also no leeway of the designated speed limit.

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