New Zealand police officers breath tests a car driver.

Why there should be no limits for drink drivers

Yet another story in the NZ Herald at the weekend about drink drive limits, this time featuring a former policemen calling for the limit to be lowered – meaning people should further limit how much alcohol they consume if they want to drive.

The government seems reluctant to budge on drink drive  limits for ‘adults’, perhaps because the hospitality industry is just too powerful – just consider SkyCity and its contributions to political campaigns and the Auckland conference centre carrot.

Then consider the power drinks firms have in New Zealand and put yourself in the shoes of politicians who need cash to run campaigns. Will they do what’s right for the people, or the corporates? Who’s your daddy?

All this talk of drink drive limits seems pointless to me. We all know that our ability to make decisions start to deteriorate from the first drink. Therefore, making a decision on whether we should have a second drink has already been compromised.

We also all know that New Zealand has a serious problem with a binge drinking culture. It seems having a drink to enjoy its taste has been replaced with an attitude of ‘how quickly can I get drunk and puke over the steering wheel’.

It is time we followed Norway in having a zero alcohol limit for drivers – all drivers. That means if just one splash of alcohol has passed a driver’s lips, then they don’t get behind the wheel of a car until it is out of their system.

A zero alcohol limit for all drivers is so simple, and there is no room for ambiguity. Drivers won’t have to guess or hope they are under the drink-drive limit. If you have had a drink, then you don’t drive.

And if you have a skinful at home the previous night, you may not be able to drive to work first thing in the morning. Morning rush-hour breath tests are routine in Norway.

It is time for someone to be bold, put the drink firms and hospitality industry second and put the people – their health and wellbeing – first. This in turn reduce save family heartache as well as the police, hospitals, and the ACC millions of taxpayer dollars.

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Steve Hart is a writer and podcaster.