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Criminal & traffic law

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 be imprisoned 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 imprisoned 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 imprisoned 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 imprisoned 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 imprisoned 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, go to the NZTA website, here (or go to: www.nzta.govt.nz and search “Legal mobile use while driving”).

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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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