Cabinet has approved lowering the blood alcohol limit from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg for drivers over 20.
The legislation to change the law will have its first reading in Parliament before Christmas, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said.
A two-year review of the impact of a 30mg reduction in the legal limit suggested 3.4 lives would be saved and 64 injury-causing crashes avoided each year, equated to savings of $200 million in social costs over 10 years.
Under the changes, the penalty for returning a positive test between 50mg and 80mg would be a $200 fine and 50 demerit points.
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