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In 2020, alcohol was a factor in 90 deaths*
In 2020, alcohol was a factor in 262 serious injuries*


The second biggest contributing factor to road crashes in New Zealand, alcohol seriously affects your driving by slowing your reaction times and affecting your senses and judgement. 

Being a responsible driver means never driving when you're over the permitted blood alcohol level as it may impair your judgement.

The impact of alcohol on driving

You risk causing death and serious injury to yourself and other people if you drive under the influence of alcohol.

Once absorbed into your bloodstream, alcohol enters your vital organs, including your brain. The result is slowed reactions along with dulled judgement and vision, all of which impair your ability to drive. Alcohol can also increase the risk of fatigue.

Two hundred and fifty micrograms per litre of breath or 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood is the current legal limit for drivers 20 years or older. At this limit, you're still twice as likely to have a crash as a driver that has a zero-blood alcohol level.

Some of the extensive costs of drink-driving related crashes are:

  • death and injury
  • emotional harm
  • long-term financial costs
  • legal charges (ranging from manslaughter to 'over the limit')
  • penalties (including imprisonment, loss of licence and/or disqualification and fines)
  • loss of insurance cover.

Drive sober

Everyone's perception of how much they can drink is different, but the law is precise: if you're over 20 years of age, the legal blood alcohol limit for driving is no more than 50 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood.

A zero-alcohol limit applies if you’re under the age of 20 years. This means that if you drive after consuming even one drink, you can be charged with drink-driving.

  • Be prepared: if you plan to drink, plan not to drive.
  • Be brave: make your own decisions, find a safe way home and don’t be influenced by others.

Want to know more?


*Note: Data is for all crashes reported by NZ Police to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency for the year 2020 as recorded in the Crash Analysis System (CASat 19 July 2021.