New research shows the number of alcoholic drinks people say they've had before getting arrested has climbed to 17.
The police-funded study by Massey University looked at 848 people detained between April and July 2013 and compared the data with that with previous years.
The study found 41 percent of people had been drinking before being arrested.
Assistant Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess says the average number of drinks increased from 12 four years ago to 17 last year.
He said it backed up the belief that alcohol is a driver for crime, and he believed new alcohol laws introduced in December would reduce the problem.
Senior researcher Dr Chris Wilkins from Massey University said the figures relate to a wide age group.
"The problem is not just in youth, it's ... often so-called experienced drinkers and people in their middle age who are drinking high amounts and ending up in trouble."
The research also found an increase in methamphetamine use , with 3 percent of people saying they'd used it before being arrested in 2010, doubling to 6 percent last year.