Drink Driving 2019-08-29T10:39:44+12:00

Drink Driving

Drink driving is technically called “driving with excess breath/blood alcohol” or “EBA” for short.

We understand that finding yourself facing this charge can be very stressful and you may have concerns about possible penalties you may face. To help we have provided the information below as a general guide as to the which you expect to receive as a sentence if convicted. Sentences will vary depending on a person’s circumstances.

However, if the is a second offence within five years of a previous EBA conviction or is one with a high reading (over 800 μg/l for example) please read the information regarding the alcohol interlock sentence.

Should you have any questions or want to hear more about how we can help contact us today for a free no obligation assessment.

First or Second Drink Driving Offence

  • A conviction and permanent record thereof
  • Usually at least six months disqualification
  • Up to three months in jail – don’t worry though in most parts of the country jail would be a highly unusual outcome on a first or second drink drive offence
  • A fine of up to $4,500.  With a first offence usually expect a dollar per alcohol point. For example if you blew a reading of 500, then a fine of around $500 is to be expected
  • Court costs – usually $132
  • Community work – (For more information see our article on ‘Section 94’ sentencing here

Three Strikes’ – Third (or more) Drink Driving Offence

  • A conviction and permanent record thereof
  • Usually at least 12 months disqualification
  • Up to two years in Jail
  • A fine of up to $6,000
  • Court costs – the least of your problems
  • Community work – if you’re lucky

You may well be in serious danger of going to Jail!  Do not go to court and plead guilty at your first appearance.

Call us now – You need serious help!

Alcohol Interlock Sentence

You can expect to receive an alcohol interlock sentence if:

  • You have a prior EBA conviction within five years of the present charge; or
  • Your breath alcohol reading exceeds 800 micro-grams of alcohol per litre of breath; or
  • Your blood alcohol reading exceeds 160 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

An alcohol interlock sentence is a mandatory sentence recently introduced to the Land Transport Act 1998. The effect of this sentence means that you will be disqualified for a period imposed by the court, after which you will be unable to hold a licence other than an alcohol interlock licence.

The period of disqualification is generally 28 days. After this period you can apply for and alcohol interlock licence. When the licence is granted you will be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to any vehicle you drive and you will have to meet the cost of this. The total cost is around $2,100.00 per vehicle across 12 months.

The device will be fitted to your vehicle for at least 12 months. Provided you have no breaches of your licence conditions within the last six months of this period the device can then be removed from your vehicle and you will then be eligible to apply for a zero alcohol licence which you will then need to carry for a further three years until you can get an unconditional licence.

Being a new sentence the alcohol interlock is relatively uncharted territory. We recommend you call us if you think this sentence applies to you.

Car confiscation

If you’ve got a previous “qualifying” drink driving offence, this may be an issue. Offences for which confiscation can occur include having had two drink driving offences within four years of each other or if you are caught driving while suspended or disqualified.

Understand that we we say “confiscation”, we don’t mean car impoundment for 28 days. Car confiscation means that your car is taken away and sold at auction usually at a fire-sale price. We can usually protect your against car confiscation (and it’s not in the way that many people think it may – the court can actually claw back the car from the person to whom you transfer it).

Immediate licence suspension

Immediate licence suspension can be inflicted in some drink driving circumstances. For example, if you had breath alcohol concentration exceeding 650 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, then the officer has the power to suspend your licence immediately for 28 days. “But I haven’t even been convicted yet” you rightly protest. We agree – this piece of the law is extremely unfair.


  • Different penalties apply to people aged under 20 years old. If you are under 20, the breath and blood alcohol limit is zero. If you can recorded a reading greater than 150 micrograms for breath or 30 milligrams for blood you are in the realm of criminal conviction and we recomment that you call us. If you exceed 400 (breath) or 80 (blood) we strongly recommend you call us. 
  • The date(s) of previous convictions can make a big difference and you may be facing extra penalties still. For example if you’ve had a particularly high reading or a refusal within the last five years or you’re charged with either of those offences this time (having had an ordinary EBA less than five years ago) then you’re facing “indefinite disqualification”. Too confusing? Call us.
Contact us

Our stand on Drink Driving

We are not embarrassed by our longstanding and deep involvement with drink drive defence law.  One reason for our focus on and reputation in defending and representing clients on drink drive charges, actually called EBA charges (for ‘Excess Breath or Blood Alcohol’ but as mentioned above, commonly known as DIC or DUI charges) is that there are around 35,000 EBA charges a year in New Zealand.

So drink driving is an offence that most well-behaved New Zealanders are going to find themselves facing, should they have the misfortune to end up on the wrong end of a charge in the criminal courts. Unluckily alas, many of our clients weren’t even stopped for ‘drunk driving’ and there was no evidence that they were impaired in their driving at all by alcohol.  Defendants have simply failed a test that depends upon an arbitrary line.  Unfortunately the law presumes that you are impaired in driving just from the event of having returned a positive result.  Fortunately however there is a great deal that can be done about it so give us a call.

FAQs about Drink Driving

Yes, but the grounds of appeal are extremely limited.

Generally the authorities will mail it back to you – but they may need a reminder call that they should be posting it back.

Not at all. Drink drive law is mainly about whether the police went through the correct procedure in handling you, and the documentation as to your case. Every person who successfully defends a charge of EBA starts with a positive reading.

Perhaps – perhaps not. But either way we suggest that he’s probably no expert on the technical points of the law which include many things that defy common sense and that you (and often he) wouldn’t even guess at.

Drink drive law as indicated above, is a highly complex area of law full of “technicalities”. Because of this complex and technical nature, it follows that there are many opportunities for the police to make mistakes and one of those mistakes may well get you off the hook.

Typically not. That sort of minor error is generally harmless to the police case. Don’t worry – you may well have a defence on another basis.

No – absolutely not! You will generally just make the situation worse – sometimes much worse.

Usually not.  That’s because we need time to get all the necessary documents concerning your case out of the police and to properly prepare your case. If you’re on a third-strike offence it’s a moral certainty that we won’t be wrapping up your case on the day of your first appearance.

Incredible but true. The law contains a “conclusive presumption”. The reading on the machine is presumed to be your reading at the time you were driving. Don’t fret however. These cases can very often be successfully resolved.

Very possibly. He might be on your land solely on the basis of an “implied licence” to be there. That’s what we have when we walk up to someone’s front door. That licence can be revoked by the occupier of the land (i.e. you) at any time. The precedent court cases on this topic show that the favourite expression used by occupiers withdrawing an implied licence tends to be something like “F___ off Cop!” Needless to say, a fair amount of acrimony is often reported on both sides in these cases. We advise politeness and leave you to design your own form of words, for example “please leave immediately officer”.

Yes, you can be convicted, sentenced and even jailed for free, but if you would like a without-obligation assessment of your situation then call us today.

Let us help you

Contact us today for a FREE telephone assessment of your situation.
There may be more hope than you think!
Calling us is the best move you can make.

Contact us