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Criminal & traffic law

Losing your licence: Suspensions and disqualifications

Automatic 28-day roadside suspensions

Land Transport Act 1998, ss 95, 95A

The police must immediately suspend your driver’s licence for 28 days in some situations. These “roadside suspensions” take effect straight away, so you won’t be able to drive home. The police can also ask the District Court to extend a roadside suspension up to three times, by up to 28 days each time.

When will I get a 28-day roadside suspension?

In the following cases a police officer must give you a notice immediately suspending your licence for 28 days:

  • Repeat drink-driving – if you’ve driven with a breath-alcohol level of more than 400 micrograms or a blood-alcohol level of more than 80 milligrams, and you’ve already been convicted of a drink-driving offence in the last four years (400 mcg and 80 mg are the levels over which adult drivers will get a criminal conviction, rather than just an on-the-spot infringement notice)
  • Serious drink-driving – if you’ve driven with a breath-alcohol level of more than 650 micrograms or a blood-alcohol level of more than 130 milligrams
  • Refusing a blood test – if you’ve failed or refused to have a blood test when required to
  • Serious speeding offences – if you drove at more than 40 km/h over the permanent sign-posted speed limit, or more than 50 km/h over a temporary limit (but this doesn’t apply if you were caught by a speed camera).

When you’re given a suspension notice in these cases, you must immediately hand over your licence to the police officer.

Can I appeal a roadside suspension?

Land Transport Act 1998, ss 101, 109

Yes. You can appeal an automatic 28-day suspension to the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) on the grounds that:

  • you weren’t the driver at the relevant time, or
  • the police didn’t have reasonable grounds for suspending your licence, or
  • the suspension notice given to you didn’t meet the requirements for these notices.

You’ll have to set out your appeal in a “statutory declaration” – these have a particular format and must be signed by, for example, a Justice of the Peace (JP), a court registrar or a lawyer.

Oaths and Declarations Act 1957, Schedule 1

The NZTA must decide your appeal within five working days.

If the NZTA turn down your appeal, you can appeal their decision to the District Court.

Will I still have to go to court if I get a roadside suspension?

Land Transport Act 1998, s 95(7)

If the relevant offence is serious enough, you’ll also have to appear in court. But if you’re found not guilty in court, your 28-day suspension will end immediately.

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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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