Lower limit will save lives

MATHEW GROCOTT - DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF
Last updated 12:00 12/08/2014

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OPINION: It's not easy to run a bar these days.

People's habits for socialising are changing, fewer people head out for after-work drinks, patrons on weekends often preload at home and the laws around selling alcohol are tighter.

The latest change to liquor laws will see the drink-driving limit lowered on December 1 from 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg.

Under the new rules an average male, that is a bloke weighing 85kg and 180cm tall, will be in danger of breaching the drink driving limit after three to four standard drinks over two hours.

A standard drink is about 33oml of 4 per cent alcohol beer or 100ml of 13 per cent alcohol wine.

Under the old rules that man was not pushing the drink driving limit until he was onto his sixth standard drink.

For the average woman, that is 165cm tall and 70kg, the danger zone would start after about two and a half standard drinks, instead three and half.

Publicans who spoke to the Manawatu Standard yesterday warned that the new laws would discourage people from drinking as much before they drove.

Of course that is exactly the point of the legislation. Their concern is that their already-pushed businesses will see a drop in revenue as fewer people stop by for after-work drinks or consume less when they do.

It's not likely to be a concern that will find much support from the general public.

After all, drink-driving laws are not drafted with the economic ramifications at the front of politicians' minds.

Rather the new limits were introduced by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee after he had received research showing the move would save lives.

Anyone who has seen what people with blood alcohol levels near 80mg are like will know that the old limits were two high.

They were also at odds with much of the Western world, which already has the limit at 50mg.

The new limits are sensible, that will make the roads safer for drinkers, bar owners and teetotallers alike.

ONE MORE THING

Prime Minister John Key has been criticised for his policy of appearing in only one candidates debate for his Helensville electorate.

But given the fuss that accompanied last night's debate in Kumeu, where Key appeared, it is easy to see why he has such a rule.

Helensville voters have the right to feel short-changed as a result, as do the other candidates, but Key knows he will win the seat so he's focusing his efforts on the bigger picture, National's party vote on September 20.

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- Manawatu Standard

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