27 Sep 2013

Focus in drink drive limit cut wrong - lawyer

12:25 pm on 27 September 2013

A criminal defence lawyer says any move to lower the alcohol limit for drivers could end up targeting the wrong people and clog the court system.

A private members bill by Labour Party MP Iain Lees-Galloway, which was drawn from the ballot on Thursday, would reduce the maximum blood alcohol content in drivers from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams.

The breath alcohol limit of 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath would be cut to 250 micrograms.

Auckland lawyer Karen Harding, who specialises in representing people charged with drink driving offences, says women would be more affected by a cut in the blood alcohol limit as their bodies are smaller and do not process alcohol as well as men's.

Ms Harding says it would be better if the focus was put on repeat drink drivers.

Mr Lees-Galloway acknowledges more people would be caught under the lower limits, but says overseas experience suggests drinking behaviours would change.

He says similar limits in Australia and Europe have saved lives, prompting both drivers who have had a few drinks and those who are very intoxicated to stay off the roads.

Automobile Association manager of motoring affairs Mike Noon says the step is a good one.

He says public tolerance for drunk drivers has gone down and more needs to be done to reduce the road toll.

Mr Noon says two thirds of AA members support a lower limit.

Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse says the Government is looking into whether reducing the limit will make any difference.