Drinking & driving

New Zealand drink drive legal alcohol limits

The Land Transport Act 1998 outlines the legal alcohol limits for drivers.

  • Drivers under 20 years - zero.

The legal drink drive limit for drivers under 20 years of age is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of zero.

Go to the Ministry of Transport’s website for further information about the zero BAC for drivers under 20.

  • Drivers 20 years and over – 250 mcg breath or 50mg blood.

The legal drink drive limits for drivers 20 years and over are a breath alcohol limit of 250 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath and a blood alcohol limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. 

Go to the Ministry of Transport’s website for information about drink driving legislation.

How are these alcohol limits measured?

The alcohol limit for driving can be tested through:

  • breath testing to measure the number of micrograms of alcohol (mcgs) per litre of breath
  • blood testing to measure the number of milligrams of alcohol (mgs) per 100 millilitres (mls) of blood.

Although the measures appear different, they are essentially the same. Both measure the same level of alcohol for drink driving purposes.

Breath testing is used for both screening and evidential purposes. Blood testing can be used as a check on the accuracy of the breath testing. The Police can require a blood test if the person refuses to do a breath test. 

Go to the NZ Transport Agency’s website for more information about alcohol and drug limits, testing, your rights and penalties.

Why shouldn’t I drink and drive?

Research indicates that driving ability is impaired after consuming any level of alcohol. If you are going to drink, then find an alternative way to get home rather than driving yourself.

Go to blood alcohol levels for a table of symptoms of drunkenness at different levels of blood alcohol.

Go to the alcohol and your body interactive tool.