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The drink driving limit for people over 20 dropped from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg per 100ml last December.

People caught with between 50 and 80mg/100ml are fined $200 and receive 50 demerit points, while those above 80 face charges, as has always been the case.

Statistics show the new system generated $300,000 in the first two months. Assistant Police Commissioner Road Policing Dave Cliff said "It's not about making money. It's about changing behaviour." Demerit points were powerful deterrent; if people kept offending they would lose their licence, and the police saw that threat as the best way of changing behaviour, Mr Cliff said.

Mr Cliff said the new laws brought New Zealand into line with Australia and Europe and aimed to reduce alcohol-related trauma as a result of crashes. He rejected the assertion the move had been a revenue-gathering exercise, saying police did not get revenue for issuing the infringement notices; in fact, it cost money to do so. Mr Cliff also rejected the assertion the new batch of speed cameras being installed nationwide were there to top up police coffers, saying they were there to improve road safety.

A number of hospitality outlets have responded to the new drink-drive limits by installing breathalysers but Mr Cliff cautioned against relying on them.

 Source: RadioNZ

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