COVID-19 response

If you are looking for the latest legal information relating current Coronavirus laws in New Zealand, check out our Coronavirus and the Law section.

Enforcement powers of police and parking wardens

Unsafe driving

Driving recklessly or dangerously

Land Transport Act 1998, ss 7, 35, 36, 36AA

You must not drive recklessly, or drive at a speed or in a way that is or could be dangerous. For this you can jailed for up to three months or fined up to $4,500, and you must be disqualified for six months or more.

If you injure someone through reckless or dangerous driving, you can be jailed for up to five years or fined up to $20,000, and you must be disqualified for at least one year. If someone is killed you can be jailed for up to 10 years or fined up to $20,000, and you must be disqualified for at least one year.

Careless or inconsiderate driving

Land Transport Act 1998, ss 8, 37–39

You must not drive carelessly or without reasonable consideration for other people. For this you can be fined up to $3,000 and disqualified for a period decided by the judge.

If you injure or kill someone through careless or inconsiderate driving, you can be jailed for up to three months or fined up to $4,500, and you must be disqualified for at least six months.

When someone is injured or killed because of your careless driving, the penalty is greater still if you were speeding, or overtaking illegally, or on the wrong side of the road. In those cases you can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to $10,000, and you must be disqualified for at least one year.

Note: Careless driving can be committed with any vehicle, not just a motor vehicle. This can include bicycles, skateboards, in-line skates, and roller skates.

Using a mobile phone while driving

Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, rule 7.3A

In general, you cannot use your mobile phone while driving. This ban covers situations where you’re holding the phone and using it to text, email, make calls, watch videos, or for any other communication. It includes when you’re stopping at an intersection, traffic lights, or you’re waiting in a queue of traffic. The penalty for this is a $150 fine and 20 demerit points.

The only time you can use your mobile phone while driving is when it’s “hands-free” – for example, when your phone is mounted on the dashboard with voice recognition on. NZTA recommends this for things like navigation and music that you set up before you start driving. For a full breakdown of legal phone use while driving, see the Waka Kotahi in “Where to go for more support”.

back to top