Lenient drink-drive law needs overhaul

MIKE YARDLEY
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2013

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Mike Yardley

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OPINION: As the police pile the pressure on the Government to lower New Zealand's drink-drive limit, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has retaliated in vintage form - essentially telling the police to butt out.

Brownlee has brusquely reminded the police brass that their job is to enforce the law, not decide what the law should be.

But the Government seems to be in a state of denial about its own limp-wristed attitude towards drink-driving. The 80mg per 100ml of blood limit is stonkingly lenient, giving a lot of numbnuts a free pass.

The average male has to guzzle about six standard alcoholic drinks within 90 minutes to hit the limit. This is not drink-driving, but drunk-driving.

Lowering to the limit to 50mg, as Australia has done, would still allow the average male to consume two standard drinks within an hour, and a further drink for every subsequent hour, and remain under the tougher limit. For women, it would be one drink an hour.

If the Government isn't prepared to disqualify from driving people who breach the 50mg limit, perhaps a compromise solution is to introduce a two-tier drink-drive system, whereby if you breach the 50-80mg limit, first offenders are fined and clobbered with demerits. What do you think?

REPAIR STANDARD

There is a bewildering level of disagreement among the legal eagles about what repair standard the Earthquake Commission (EQC) is obliged to follow when fixing people's homes.

Lane Neave's Duncan Webb, writing in The Press yesterday, argues that the obligation is to repair to a reasonable "as before" standard.

Yet, Anthony Harper's Simon Munro is adamant that the EQC must repair to an "as new" standard.

Munro is soliciting hundreds of expressions of interest from homeowners, keen to be part of a group action against the EQC.

The legal action would seek to secure a declaratory judgment from the High Court clarifying and confirming the standard of repair the EQC is obliged to meet, via the Fletcher's programme.

Some of the current fish-hooks that are causing nightmares for homeowners relate to being forced to accept a cash settlement, who is responsible for the replacement of old wiring, partly damaged foundations, weather-tightness issues and raising foundations to comply with new flood hazard area requirements.

Munro believes the EQC must be forced to implement the legal standard of repair of "as new, modified to comply with applicable laws".

Wherever the legal truth may lie, a declaratory judgment is desperately overdue, given the deep-seated concerns about inadequate repairs.

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Lianne Dalziel has confirmed to me that upon becoming mayor she will support the city council undertaking the legal action on behalf of residents to seek clarity from the courts, if required.

- The Press

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