Lower alcohol limit for motorcyclists mooted

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 11:59 06/03/2014

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A road safety group has asked a select committee to consider introducing a lower drink driving limit for motorcyclists.

The Transport and Industrial Relations select committee is today considering submissions on the Land Transport Amendment Bill.

It will lower the adult breath alcohol limit from 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath to 250mcg.

Drivers who commit an offence between 251-400mcg of breath will face a $200 infringement fee and will receive 50 demerit points.  Drivers in this range would not be able to elect an evidential blood test. Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within years will receive a three month suspension of their licence.

Traffic Institute of New Zealand president Andy Foster asked the committee to consider developing a lower drink driving limit for motorcyclists "given the level of care and dexterity needed to ride a motorbike." 

"Even if you don't do it now, it's something you could consider."

The group represents local government on roading matters. 

Mr Foster is a Wellington City Councillor.

Select committee member Cam Calder, a motorcyclist, said he could not back the move. "I think it would raise questions about their rights," he said.

Motorcyclists accepted that they had more chance of injury than other road users, he said.

Mr Foster said crash data showed motorcycle accidents were a "real problem" on New Zealand roads.

Later, Police Association vice-president Luke Shadbolt said having a different drink drive limit for motorcyclists would add a layer of complexity to road laws. "It's better to say here are the rules."

Law Society Law Reform Committee member Graeme Edgeler told the committee plans to drop blood tests in some cases would remove a chance for drivers to challenge the result of a breath test. 

"This may breach the presumption of innocence."

Mr Shadbolt said modern roadside breath tests were accurate.

Blood testing was outdated, complicated and tied up police for hours, he said.  Drivers should have the option of accepting the results of a roadside  breath test he said. "I suspect most would accept a fine, a stand-down period, demerit points and move on."

More resources could then be poured into policing and education. "We can save a lot of time and money."
The proposed Bill received qualified support from submitters.

Automobile Association policy advisor Ben Young said more could be done, especially by introducing mandatory interlock devices for repeat and serous drink drivers. An interlock requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece at the
start and during a journey. The vehicle will not start if the driver has any alcohol in their system.

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- Wellington

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