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Criminal & traffic law

Drink/drug driving

Defences to drink/drug driving charges

When might I have a defence to a drink-drug driving charge?

Land Transport Act 1998, s 64(1)-(1B)

  • Refusing a blood test for health reasons – It’s a defence to a charge of refusing to have a blood test if the test would’ve been harmful to your health. You’ll need evidence from a doctor to establish this defence.
  • Taking drugs on doctor’s instructions – It’s a defence to a charge of driving while impaired by drugs if you had a doctor’s prescription for the relevant drug or medicine or a doctor gave it to you, and you followed all the doctor’s instructions.
  • Refusing impairment test because of disability or injury – It’s a defence to a charge of refusing or not doing a drug impairment test if you weren’t able to take the test because of a pre-existing medical condition or disability, or because you were injured in the traffic accident that led to the police asking you to do the test.

Factors that don’t amount to a defence

Land Transport Act 1998, s 64(2)

  • Strict compliance with testing rules not necessary – It’s not a defence that the police didn’t strictly comply with the breath or blood-alcohol testing rules in your case, so long as there was “reasonable compliance”.
  • Earlier tests irrelevant – If you’re charged with driving with excess breath or blood-alcohol, it’s not a defence that there was a mistake in any of the earlier tests that the police relied on to require you to have further testing.

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Driving and traffic law

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres/

For Community Law’s guide to applying for a limited licence and template application forms: communitylaw.org.nz/resources/legal-letters

Waka Kotahi – New Zealand Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi’s site provides a wide range of driving and road safety information, including on topics covered in this chapter.

Website: www.nzta.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 699 000
Email: info@nzta.govt.nz

Search your question on Waka Kotahi’s resources section: www.nzta.govt.nz/resources

New Zealand Police

The New Zealand Police’s “frequently asked questions” section provides helpful information, particularly the “Driving/road safety” and “Tickets/infringements” section.

Website: www.police.govt.nz/advice-and-services/faqs

New Zealand Government

The New Zealand government website sets out more information about driving fines and penalties, including how to pay for infringement notices.

Website: www.govt.nz/browse/transport/driving-fines-and-penalties

Consumer Protection

The Consumer Protection website has useful information on a range of consumer topics, including private parking tickets and the towing and clamping of cars.

Website: www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/help-product-service/cars/parking-clamping-towing

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