NZ First MP wants to raise the drink driving limit

Anti-drink driving campaigners fear bumping up the legal limit will intensify our binge-drinking culture.

New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball has introduced a bill to have the legal breath-alcohol limit of 400mcg per litre of breath reinstated. It was lowered to 250mcg in 2014.

He also wants the blood-alcohol limit increased back to 100mg, up from the present 80mg, saying the lower limits have done nothing to reduce offending or fatalities.

"The vast majority of drivers in fatal drink-driving accidents have been in the range of twice the legal limit," said Mr Ball. "These are the recidivist, high-level drink drivers we need to be targeting – not hard-working Kiwis who have a beer or wine after work."

He also says rural pubs are struggling.

But a woman who was almost killed by a drunk driver says Kiwis already like to push it, and raising the limit will make things worse.

"The mentality is, 'How close can I get to the limit?'" No One Ever Stands Alone founder Leah Abrams told Newshub.

Ms Abrams says it's damaging to have politicians encouraging a 'drink more' mindset.

"It is a really dangerous call. We still, as a nation, have a long way to go to prevent drunk-driving on our roads. I think any changes to the laws as they currently stand take us back, rather than forward."

Ms Abrams had to be cut out of her car in 2015 after her vehicle was hit by a drunk driver, and says a few drinks is often where it begins.

"That individual who hit me… probably didn't go out to hurt somebody at the end of the night. He probably started drinking - like anybody else - then carried on, taking it too far."

Since the 2014 law change, a greater percentage of drivers involved in fatal accidents have been found to be above the legal limit. While Mr Ball says this is evidence the law isn't working, it could be that more drivers are getting snagged by the lower limits.

The road toll has been going up since 2013.