NZ Drink Driving Limits

Changes to the Land Transport Act 1998 ( effective 1 December, 2014 ) have lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for all drivers aged over 20 years to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Breath-test levels have also been lowered to 250 micrograms. The zero limit for drivers under 20 years of age remains unchanged. Fines, demerit points, and even criminal prosecutions face those who break the new limits. All rather sobering!

The reality is that some of us will need to change our behaviour. Our reaction to alcohol, at an individual level, is influenced by many factors – how much food we might have consumed, our general health, weight, age, sex, and ethnicity.

One standard drink represents 10 grams of alcohol, which equates to around 100ml of wine at 13% alcohol by volume for a 750ml bottle. Many wines today are in the range of 13%+ to 14.5% alcohol by volume – particularly pinot noir, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.

The on-premise sector – restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels, have a major role to play in guiding consumers to make the right choices in social drinking situations. It has become the practice to see more wines included on Wine Lists as glass pours. This allows for wine to be served in a more manageable portion and with the customer consuming less alcohol. In this regard, there is scope for wine lists to offer a choice of glass pour measures – 75ml, 100ml, 150ml, and 200ml, priced accordingly – all in the interests of moderate consumption and more responsible driver behaviour.

Other outcomes arising from these law changes could see patrons preferring to dine out / socialize locally within their own communities. Also, greater use of taxis and other transport services on offer through on-premise providers. Then there is always the designated driver option.


BARRY JOHNS  ( aka Le Vigneron )