Changes to drink-driving limits from 1 December 2014

28 Nov 14

With Christmas just around the corner, drivers need to be aware of the changes to drink-driving limits that will apply from 1 December 2014. These changes include a significant reduction of the current drink-driving limits and the creation of infringement offences for driving in excess of the new limits.

What are the limits?

From 1 December 2014, the alcohol limit for drivers aged 20 and over lowers from 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, to 250mcg.

The blood alcohol limit lowers from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, to 50mg.

The limit for drivers under the age of 20 will remain at zero.

What happens if you are caught over the new limit?

If a breath screening test shows you have more than 250mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, you will be asked to take an evidential breath test usually in a “booze bus” or at a police station.

If you are caught driving in excess of the new limits, you will be found to have committed an infringement offence. You will likely be forbidden to drive for up to 12 hours.

The penalties for committing an infringement offence are:

  • If a breath test shows 251-400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath the penalty is a $200 infringement fee and 50 demerit points.
  • If a blood test shows 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood the penalty is an infringement fee of up to $700 and 50 demerit points. The total fee may vary depending on the circumstances leading to the blood test.

There are other relevant changes coming into force on 1 December relating to evidential blood tests.

Any driver who accumulates 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years will receive a three month driver licence suspension.

This is an infringement offence. There will not be a criminal conviction.

No change to old law

If you are found to be over 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, or over 80mcg of alcohol per litre of blood, the penalties under the Land Transport Act 1998 still apply.

If you plead guilty or are found guilty of these offences, you will receive a criminal conviction.

We can help

Nic Soper, Allie Cunninghame and Sarah McNeill of the Anderson Lloyd litigation team practice in the area of criminal law and are happy to assist with any questions you may have about any of the above changes.