Worth supporting to select committee

September 27th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

A member’s bill which would reduce the amount of alcohol New Zealanders could legally drink before driving has been pulled from the ballot today.

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway’s Land Transport (Safer Alcohol Limits for Driving) Amendment Bill was one of two bills added to Parliament’s workload.

It would lower the allowable blood alcohol content (BAC) for adults from 0.08g per 100ml to 0.05g per 100ml.

The bill’s policy statement said: “There is demonstrable evidence and research already available which shows enough driver impairment between the proposed 0.05 limit and the 0.08 limit to warrant action. A drug and alcohol expert from the United Kingdom has estimated that this measure could reduce our road toll by two-thirds as it would alter driver behaviour.”

Government was already reviewing New Zealand’s drink-drive limits, which were among the highest in the world.

A study which counted how many injuries and deaths were caused by drivers who had a BAC between 0.05g and 0.08g was expected to come before Cabinet at the end of this year.

Labour have been insisting that the Government should drop the legal blood alcohol limit without getting any research done on how many actual accidents are caused by drivers with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08, and how many people are driving with a BAC at that level. They have been hysterically demanding a reduction regardless of what the data shows. Even more bizarre is they of course did nothing in nine years around the limit, but the moment they were in opposition demanded the Government drop it.

I am sceptical that a drop would have much impact on our accident rate and road toll as most accidents have drivers way way over the existing limit. However I am open to persuasion if the data in NZ backs up that the accident and fatality rate from those at 0.05 to 0.08 BAC is greatly elevated. What I am against is a kneejerk decision.

However if the research is almost done, then what would seem sensible to me is to vote for the bill to go to select committee on the basis that it is an issue worthy of consideration, and then once the data is complete have that considered by the select committee. Then MPs could make an informed decision about whether a change will have a significant impact on the road toll.

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37 Responses to “Worth supporting to select committee”

  1. Pete George (23,596 comments) says:

    I await the research data with interest.

    Regardless of research, a drop to 0.05 would substantially impact on how people socialise, and would be bad news for restaurants in particular. Currently you can go out for a meal, have two or three wines, and then drive carefully and safely home.

    If the level is dropped I will certainly eat out less, I’d be unwilling to spend an extra $50 on taxis except for special occasions.

    I hope the research shows how many accidents happen while driving home from a restaurant.

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  2. Longknives (4,764 comments) says:

    Fucking wowsers- Trying to make having a quiet beer on the way home from work a crime…
    They need to throw the book at recidivist drunk drivers, and start imprisoning people who cause all the carnage on our roads…not make a criminal out of the guy who has one or two quiet beers after work then drives safely home.
    The cynic in me thinks this may be driven by a Police force desperate for more funding…

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  3. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    Dropping the level will do nothing to improve road safety. The advocates for this have other motives. We can add – liars – to their list of personality traits.

    If they are anti booze then why not just say so and be sincere about what they really want ?. NZ has a booze problem, but tinkering around with the driving limit will do nothing but criminalise sensible drinkers.

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  4. freedom101 (505 comments) says:

    Another option would be to increase the penalties for those over 0.80. I would support that before lowering the limit. If you drive over 0.80 then you are likely to be endangering others, which ought to be a very serious offence.

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  5. Redbaiter (9,098 comments) says:

    “I am sceptical that a drop would have much impact on our accident rate and road toll as most drink driving accidents have drivers way way over the existing limit.”

    That is it in a fucking nutshell. So when is someone going to take a stand against ever expanding government, ever decreasing civil rights and ever expanding regulation?

    (Not useless John Banks that is for sure, who has already said he supports a decrease to .05. ACT are just a fucking joke.)

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  6. projectman (224 comments) says:

    This question of whether a drop to 50 mg/100 mL blood (from 80) would have any significant effect was effectively knocked on the head many years ago by extensive analysis at the DSIR Chemistry Division. Essentially, it wouldn’t. Most of the issues with drinking drivers were a consequence of drivers well in excess of the 80 mg/100mL blood limit (or its equivalent in breath alcohol). I doubt anything much has changed since then.

    On that basis, this is just a political football.

    Drink/driving habits have changed significantly over the years and many more people are not drinking if they are driving later, or amongst a group there is a sober driver – another reason that changing the limit is likely to have reduced effectiveness.

    Having said that, it would be interesting to see if there are differences between rural and urban NZ. The lack of public transport in rural areas may well be a factor in people thee driving with higher alcohol limits.

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  7. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    I suspect the problem is the inconsiderate or poor driving, not the inebriation. There are some roads that demand high levels of concentration and critical judgement, but I doubt it’s the bloke driving home from a restaurant across town who is the menace. It’s the normally out-of-their-minds louts.

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  8. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    The whole idea of an alcohol limit for driving is misguided.

    Alcohol affects people in different ways. Everyone is impaired, but many can compensate by driving more slowly and carefully than they normally would. In a rural area there may not even be any other vehicles on the road at the time. The right approach is to just prosecute people who drive badly. It doesn’t matter to other road users whether someone drives badly because they are drunk, tired, uncoordinated, distracted or just plain incompetent. Likewise, if someone is driving carefully and posing no risk to others, it doesn’t matter what their BAC is.

    Also, police stopping people at random without any grounds to suspect wrongdoing and forcing them to give evidence against themselves would be unacceptable even in a murder investigation. But somehow it’s regarded as ok for to do this to drivers because of the hysteria that has been built up.

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  9. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    I don’t know if rural / urban differences in transport options are still such a big factor in drink driving… most small towns I’m familiar with have a van organized by either the RSA, rugby club or multiple drinking establishments in cooperation with each other.

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  10. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    just keep chipping away at personal freedoms..

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  11. jcuk (693 comments) says:

    Since I only drink at home, a glass basically becuase it is supposed to be good for my heart, I dread the reduction in case I might have to go somewhere after dinner in my car. Attention should be given to the people who persistently drive well over the limit not making criminals of careful drivers.

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  12. kowtow (8,524 comments) says:

    There’s a relatively small number of recidivists who are the real problem.

    Target them,they’re well known and punish properly.

    No need for all this hand wringing.

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  13. Ed Snack (1,883 comments) says:

    A major I have is that is the research going to be scientific or political. All too often these days we see “science” being perverted by the requirement to reach politically acceptable (for the inner beltway types mostly) conclusion.

    Therefore I see it perfectly possible that the research will conclude that drivers with between blood alcohol levels between 50 and 80 ml are absolute dangerous lunatics who should be slammed mercilessly by the law regardless of what the actual data says. And this will depend on who is responsible for the research and what barrow(s) they’re pushing, and what courage they have to stand up for their right to publish honest research.

    Politicized science is always bad, and I say that regardless of whether I support the conclusion or not. We can make political decisions on issues that fly in the face of scientific evidence but those should be seen as political moves and judged in that light. Far worse to pimp support by claiming scientific validity that in reality doesn’t exist.

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  14. mandk (998 comments) says:

    @ Pete George,
    There’s no reason why dropping the limit should stop you going out for meal and having 2 or 3 glasses of wine before driving home. I’ve been stoppped several times after having had a couple of glasses of wine with a meal and the breath test read “No alcohol” each time.

    @ Longknives,
    Nor is there any reason why you should be able to have a quiet beer after work. Unless you mean drinking 4 litres in 2 hours.

    You have to be really quite pissed in NZ to fail a breath test.

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  15. gump (1,650 comments) says:

    @dime

    Your personal freedoms end when they start causing harm or death to other people.

    Anti drink driving legislation and Police enforcement have worked incredibly well in NZ. A quick glance at the massive road toll reductions since the 1970s is compelling.

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  16. Longknives (4,764 comments) says:

    mandk- I don’t think you have been following.
    I am well aware that I can currently have a couple of beers after work and be fine to drive under the CURRENT legislation. The whole point of this post is that there are wowsers out there who are desperately trying to take that away from me…hence the proposed reductions in Breath/Blood alcohol limits.

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  17. Peter (1,713 comments) says:

    @ Pete George,
    There’s no reason why dropping the limit should stop you going out for meal and having 2 or 3 glasses of wine before driving home. I’ve been stoppped several times after having had a couple of glasses of wine with a meal and the breath test read “No alcohol” each time.

    That just shows how arbitrary is between individuals. I’ve blown a positive reading having only drunk cough syrup.

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  18. Peter (1,713 comments) says:

    Your personal freedoms end when they start causing harm or death to other people.

    I drive after drinking, responsibly, often. Have done for well over 20 years. I’ve never had a car accident.

    How about you?

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  19. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    You are right re research however you may be shocked as to how inch someone can drink and still be under (but adversely, and excessively, affected by alcohol). I would also like to know how many drinks it takes for an average person to be over – is it 6-8 or more as I have observed on numerous occasions or are they outliers? To put it another way is there a risk of criminalising a person who has two standard drinks over dinner if the limit is lowered?

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  20. mandk (998 comments) says:

    @ Longknives,
    My point is that you would still be able to have a quiet drink – probably 3-4 pints – under the PROPOSED limit of 0.05

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  21. mandk (998 comments) says:

    @ Peter

    Were you prosecuted?

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  22. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    This proposal by Lees-Galloway is driven by Sally Caswell – the anti alcoholic beverage zealot from Massey – and is straight out of the Casswell/Selman playbook.

    Casswell was running her near life long campaign out of Auckland Uni, but funding dried up. She then found her way to Massey, the land run by Maharey, the ex Labour Minister.

    Casswell is the driving force behind Lees Galloway, and MPs would be very, very silly (but, situation normal?) to treat it seriously.

    Any select committee hearings would be a re-run of past vaudeville efforts. It is all bullshit, and the Police/NZLTA well know that. For both of them, Casswell, and the similar groups in Christchurch and Dunedin, it is all about funding…and about as honest as the DAGW/CC scam.

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  23. Colville (2,272 comments) says:

    Longknives. How much do you weigh?

    I am (currently a very petite :-) ) 94kg. I can drink a full bottle of wine in a hour with a meal and legally drive home.
    I can have 6 Heinys and drive legally.

    Under the proposed law that would drop to maybe 2 decent glasses and 3 or 4 beers. Is that going to kill a social drink?
    I think not.

    I loathe Lees-Galloway with a passion but I would support doing some work on this proposal.

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  24. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    DPF,

    Even more bizarre is they of course did nothing in nine years around the limit, but the moment they were in opposition demanded the Government drop it.

    Are you implying that once National is out of office they will never introduce a new policy?

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  25. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    Longknives (2,959) Says:
    September 27th, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Fucking wowsers- Trying to make having a quiet beer on the way home from work a crime…

    Not sure I support the lowering, but 0.08 is far from a “quiet beer”.

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  26. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    Give it 5-10 years and we can let our Google cars drive us home drunk as a skunk.

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  27. Twinkletoes (53 comments) says:

    First they came for the smokers……………….

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  28. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    Twinkletoes (24) Says:
    September 27th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    First they came for the smokers……………….

    Yes, first they came for the pot smokers… or was it the opium smokers?

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  29. duggledog (1,559 comments) says:

    Strongly disagree with most of the posters – and I normally agree on most other topics.

    Nobody needs to drive or should drive with more than a couple of large wines or 3 or 4 beers in them. It’s too big a risk, and I don’t want to meet another driver in the dark when they’ve had six or seven beers and are ‘still under the limit’. Especially on a narrow country road when they are driving a 4WD with bull bars and I’m in a smaller car.

    Get a cab, dial a driver or get somebody to be the sober driver and stop being so bloody selfish!

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  30. Redbaiter (9,098 comments) says:

    You should only be prosecuted for real crime.

    Not a predicted one.

    And in a civilised country you should not be stopped and detained by police while going about your lawful business.

    But when have the principles that made the British and their colonies one of the greatest most liberal societies in the world ever mattered to brain fucked brainwashed progressives without a fucking clue as to what is important.

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  31. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    Redbaiter (5,125) Says:
    September 27th, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    You should only be prosecuted for real crime.

    Endangering others is a real crime.

    Not a predicted one.

    So if you think you are capable of driving 200mph, running red lights, while high on P, eating a cheeseburger, and texting on your phone…. all good until you hit someone? Why should you be restricted just because other people can’t handle high speeds, can’t dodge traffic, and cannot multitask?

    I agree Red… it’s just so unfair. :roll:

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  32. Redbaiter (9,098 comments) says:

    “So if you think you are capable of driving 200mph, running red lights, while high on P, eating a cheeseburger, and texting on your phone…. all good until you hit someone? ”

    If you want to use such extremes then yes. I agree. All good until he hits someone. Otherwise you are infringing upon the basic principles I outlined above. (look up principles, you might be able to understand it then)

    When the arsehole who does that is prosecuted and sent to jail for ninety years no doubt it won’t cause any kind of drop off in the number of people who go around “driving 200mph, running red lights, while high on P, eating a cheeseburger, and texting on your phone”

    Not in the liberall la la land you inhabit anyway.

    Another symptom of progressivism, where liberal attitudes result in oppressive laws, an over powerful and intrusive state and also expose the hypocrisy and futility of the libertarian/ progressive political movement.

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  33. duggledog (1,559 comments) says:

    Further to my post above I don’t like seeing people eating big sloppy burgers while driving, or texting or anything similar either, and I see it all the damn time on the roads. People not concentrating, talking to the kids in the back, swerving over the centre line.

    NZ’s attitude to driving is basically laissez faire and irresponsible. We are essentially a nation of bogan motor heads. Who like to drink lots. It’s almost like American gun culture – can’t get off the stupid carousel because people want it both ways.

    I wouldn’t give two shits if they made it a zero alcohol limit and took recidivist drivers off the road semi permanently as in put in jail for ten years. Things have become much better since I started driving in the 1980s but could do with considerable improvement.

    This is a vote catcher for Labour and exactly where they can cane National

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  34. Peter (1,713 comments) says:

    Were you prosecuted?

    As in alcohol was detected on my breath, not that I was over the limit. Obviously.

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  35. MT_Tinman (3,204 comments) says:

    Longknives (2,970) Says:
    September 27th, 2013 at 9:19 am
    The cynic in me thinks this may be driven by a Police force desperate for more funding…

    No, this is the pigs wanting more power, wanting the police state extended.

    I don’t drink and drive. Ever!

    BUT … I, like a large number of people do not live in town where a bus or taxi is always handy.

    The right to have a quiet one with friends, acquaintances or fellow footie fans and then drive home is one that needs protecting from the townie communist scum.

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  36. gump (1,650 comments) says:

    @Redbaiter

    “You should only be prosecuted for real crime.

    Not a predicted one.”

    —————————

    If I shoot a gun at another person and my bullet misses its target, have I committed a “real crime” or a “predicted one” ?

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  37. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    >If I shoot a gun at another person and my bullet misses its target, have I committed a “real crime” or a “predicted one” ?

    If you were aiming at them you committed the crime of attempted murder. But I don’t see what that has to do with someone driving slowly and carefully down the road with a BAC of 0.1

    A more apt analogy would be from drinking and causing road accidents to drinking and domestic violence. If I get drunk and don’t beat my wife, have I committed a “real crime”, a “predicted one” or no crime at all. Does this change just because we have a problem in NZ of many people beating their partners while drunk? The answers are obvious.

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