With just a month to go until a new lower alcohol limit for adult drivers comes into effect, police and road safety agencies are reminding drivers of the impending change.
Assistant Commissioner of Road Policing, Dave Cliff, said from this week, police staff across the country would be handing out information to drivers about the new lower limits, and would be continuing to talk with motorists about the coming change.
"With only a month to go until the new lower alcohol limits for drivers over 20 comes into effect, police will be busy educating motorists and reminding them of what the legislation means for them should they be stopped from 1 December," Mr Cliff said.
"Police welcome the lowered limit, which represents a significant opportunity to further reduce the number of people killed and maimed on our roads, and lessen the lifelong impact that this has on families and in our communities.
"One of the great things is that anecdotally, many drivers already appear to be taking the new limits on board and moderating their behaviour, which is fantastic to see."
However, Mr Cliff warned that police would not be lessening its focus on those continuing to break the law who put other innocent road users at risk.
"While we are taking an educational approach to those drivers who currently fall within the soon-to-be lowered limit, those thinking that there will be any softening in our approach to drink-driving overall should think again.
"I can assure the public that anyone caught drink-driving and breaking the law can expect to face the full consequences."
The new legislation lowers the adult breath alcohol limit from 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, to 250mcg.
The blood alcohol limit will reduce from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (0.08), to 50mg (0.05).
This means that adult drivers who commit an offence between 251-400mcg of breath will face an infringement penalty of $200 and receive 50 demerit points.
Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years will receive a three month driver licence suspension.
For drivers under 20, the limit stays at zero.
Police efforts will be supported by a nationwide NZ Transport Agency public information campaign beginning in the coming weeks, including television, radio and bus shelter advertising, along with posters and coasters in pubs and other licensed premises.
Chairman of the National Road Safety Committee, and Secretary for Transport, Martin Matthews, said the new legislation was welcomed by road safety agencies, and had gained wide public support, with 60 per cent of New Zealanders surveyed favouring a lower legal blood-alcohol limit for driving.
"Lowering the adult drink-drive limit was a key strategic action under Safer Journeys, the government's road safety strategy.
International research supports our expectations that, like the zero limit for drivers under 20, this move will make a significant difference in reducing road trauma, and will help realise the strategy's vision of a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury."
ACC's Chief Executive, Scott Pickering, said: "ACC estimates that alcohol contributes to around 11 per cent of all injuries, and vehicle crashes on the road are the main cause of serious injuries in New Zealand.
To avoid adding to these injury statistics, we're asking Kiwis to plan ahead, look out for your mates and don't drink and drive."
Mr Cliff said drinking and driving continued to be a factor in about 30 per cent of all fatal road crashes.
"For every 100 alcohol or drug-impaired drivers or riders who died in road crashes, 47 of their passengers and 16 sober road users die with them.
Over the last 10 years, fatal crashes caused by drink-driving have claimed the lives of around 1100 people and caused serious injuries to another 5300.
"For every one of those people killed or seriously hurt, there are still thousands more families, friends and whanau who have been left behind grieving, or struggling to support loved ones who in many cases have been left to cope with lifelong injuries.
"The international research is unequivocal - lowering the adult drink-driving limit is a significant step towards reducing the number of people killed and injured on our roads, and police and its road safety partners continue to be very firmly focused on this objective.
"We ask that New Zealanders also keep playing their part to make the roads safer for all of us."