Objection Overruled | Issue 10

Objection Overruled | Issue 10

Impaired Driving

Drink driving. As with drugs and casual sex, many students have dabbled. Whether it is a morning-after stint or a blatant act of driving obliterated, drink driving is rife in New Zealand. This is particularly so in the Southern Region, where 16-24 year olds are over-represented compared with the rest of the country. Legislation introduced in November 2009 targets drug-impaired drivers too, as the growing subculture poses an increasing risk for road users. If you are apprehended on the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can expect the following:

Any person driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle is required to undergo a passive breath test if requested by police. This detects any level of alcohol on your breath. If it detects alcohol, a breath screening test measures whether you are over the legal limit of 400mcg for micrograms (for those aged over 20). If you fail this, you must accompany the police officer to the station for an evidential breath test. At this point you may contact a lawyer, with whom you may speak for a reasonable amount of time. The evidential breath test measures the precise level of alcohol in your breath, with the lower of two readings being counted. You are then given the opportunity to give a blood specimen.

If apprehended on the suspicion that you are affected by drugs, you will be required to perform a compulsory drug impairment test. This measures the ability to follow instructions and motor skills – walking in a straight line and turning, plus balancing on one foot – and also measures pupil activity with a torch light. Certain indicators of drug taking include the inability to follow instruction, difficulty with tracking the light and enlarged pupils. If you do not complete the test to a satisfactory level, you must give a blood specimen.

The Land Transport Act provides that “motor vehicle” means a vehicle drawn or propelled by mechanical power. Interestingly, it explicitly excludes pedestrian-controlled machines such as bicycles and skateboards. These are classed as “vehicles” for the purpose of careless driving, but you may escapade drunk at your leisure without fear of a drink driving conviction.

– Alice O’Connell

Disclaimer: Critic does not endorse or incite you to ride a bicycle or skateboard whilst intoxicated.
This article first appeared in Issue 10, 2012.
Posted 12:51am Monday 7th May 2012 by .