From Sunday it will be against the law for drivers under the age of 20 to consume alcohol before driving, says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.
The current blood alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 is BAC 0.03 (30 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood), this will reduce to zero.
Mr Joyce says the reduced BAC is the second of three current measures being introduced which will enhance the safety of our young drivers. It follows an increase in the minimum driving age, from 15 to 16, which came into force on Monday (1 August).
In February next year the restricted licence test will be strengthened to encourage young and novice drivers to spend more time practising their skills under supervision before they are able to drive solo.
“Improving the safety of young drivers is a priority for the government as young drivers are disproportionately represented in fatal and serious crash statistics,” says Mr Joyce.
“Young people (15-19 years) make up 7.4% of New Zealand's population and 6.1% of all licensed drivers, but in 2010 they were involved in around 17% of all serious injury crashes. Crashes where young drivers were at fault resulted in 60 deaths and 385 serious injuries last year alone.
“Even more concerning is that 48% of those fatalities and 33% of those seriously injured in crashes where teen drivers were at fault involve alcohol as a factor. We cannot continue to ignore these statistics.
“Sadly we are all too aware of the tragic consequences that can occur when a group of teens make a bad decision about who is 'sober enough'to drive. This law change will make it black and white.
“The message to teen drivers is simple: if you plan on drinking, don’t plan on driving.
“While none of the measures the government is introducing is a silver bullet on its own, together they will have a significant impact over time they will all help keep our most inexperienced drivers safer on the roads,” says Mr Joyce.