Lower drink-drive limits suggested

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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The head of Taranaki's Traffic and Alcohol Group wants to see New Zealand's alcohol limits for driving reduced.

New Zealand's limits are some of the highest in the world, with the legal breath alcohol level being 400 micrograms per litre of breath and 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Australia and most European countries had blood alcohol limits of 50mg.

Calls were made to lower the blood alcohol limits in the Alcohol Reform Bill, which was passed this week, but the move did not receive a majority vote so was not included in the final bill.

Statistics reported in the media show 20 people have been killed in crashes involving drink-drivers who were just below the legal limit in the past four years.

A further 281 people were seriously injured in crashes involving drink-drivers just under the limit.

Sergeant Shane Hurliman said he would like to see New Zealand's drink-driving limits lowered.

"It would certainly bring us into line with the rest of the world," Mr Hurliman said.

"I believe our current levels of 80mg of blood and 400mcg of breath are some of the higher levels in the world."

Mr Hurliman said he would like to see New Zealand's levels lowered to match Australia's.

"I would like to see the limit dropped to that level.

"I would like to think it would reverse the trend of these extremely high readings we are encountering."

Lowering the levels would not have an impact on people drinking sensibly, he said.

"It still means that the normal folk can still go out in an evening and enjoy a restaurant meal and a bottle of wine between them quite easily, without risking that 250mcg limit.

"It's not as if it's going to restrict the goings out of the responsible public."

Mr Hurliman said lowering the limits would have an impact on alcohol-related road trauma.

"I believe it would have to, whether it's going to have a significant impact on lowering crash rates and fatality rates is too hard to tell.

"People will push any limit regardless of what that limit is and some of these people may find themselves involved in a serious or fatal crash."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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