In May 2011, Parliament passed the Land Transport (Road Safety and other Matters) Amendment Act 2011 (the Act). The Act included actions from Safer Journeys: New Zealand’s Road Safety Strategy 2010-2020 to improve the safety of young drivers and reduce the impact of alcohol in road crashes. The Act also provided for the repeal of the Transport Act 1962, and included provisions for streamlining the land transport Rule-making process, improving accountability for towage and storage costs of unclaimed impounded vehicles, as well as a number of technical amendments to enhance the effectiveness of Land Transport Act provisions.

Read Transport Minister Steven Joyce's media release on the beehive website (external link) .

Main changes

Safer Journeys younger driver package

  • From 1 August 2011, raise the minimum licensing age from 15 to 16.
  • Provide for the NZ Transport Agency to strengthen the restricted licence test

Information on the change to the licensing age and the strengthening of the restricted licence test as well as transitional arrangements for those aged 15 at the time of the change is available on the NZ Transport Agency website (external link) .

Safer Journeys alcohol actions and review of penalties causing death

In force from 10 May 2011:

  • Increase  penalties for dangerous driving-type offences causing death by doubling the maximum period of imprisonment from 5 to 10 years.
  • Allow the NZ Police to apply to a court to have a 28-day roadside licence suspension extened for a further 28 days.  This can only be used up to three times in respect to any single suspension. 

In force from 7 August 2011:

  • Lower the youth drink drive limit (applies to drivers under 20 years of age from blood alcohol concentration (BAC) 0.03 (30 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood or 150 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath) to BAC zero.
  • Provide for infringement penalties (fines and demerit points) for the breah of the youth zero drink drive limits (between zero and the current level).
  • Allow Police to take alcohol readings for research purposes from all drivers involved in fatal or serious injury crashes who have a BAC between .05 and .08 (50 milligrams and 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood or 250 and 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath).

Yet to be brought into force: 

  • Allow Courts the option to require repeat or serious drink drive offenders to use alcohol interlocks, after a mandated 90-day disqualification. Interlocks must be used for at least 12 months, and can only be removed where the offender shows a violation-free period of 6 months (reducing to 3 months if an approved alcohol assessment is also completed). Offenders who complete an alcohol interlock programme will be subject to a zero BAC limit licence for the 3 years after the removal of their interlock.
  • Require repeat drink-drive offenders to be subject to a BAC zero limit licence for 3 years following a period of disqualification.  

The Act also contained:

Miscellaneous provisions

  • Extend provisions for roadside driver licence suspensions so that Police can serve a demerit suspension notice without the necessity for the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to have already unsuccessfully attempted service. Prior to the Amendment Act, Police could only serve a notice when the NZTA had attempted to serve a notice and was unsuccessful. The Amendment Act removed this.
  • Amend the work time and logbooks regime to give better definition of the provisions and remove ambiguity.
  • Minor technical amendments to the legislation around the driver licence reinstatement fee.
  • Amend the legislation to allow a more flexible approach to adopting new devices for taking blood specimens for drink and drug driving enforcement purposes.
  • Improve accountability for towing and storage costs of unclaimed impounded vehicles.
  • A minor technical amendment to the Summary Proceedings Act 1957, Schedule 1 Part 2 to allow the new drugged driving offences to be heard summarily (ie by a judge alone), as well as indictably (ie before a jury).
  • Ban the use or possession, in a motor vehicle, of equipment that interferes with speed measuring devices (‘radar jammers’).

Provisions for parking warden powers

  • Parking wardens’ existing powers were transferred from the Transport Act 1962 to the Land Transport Act 1998.

Provisions for transport bylaws

  • The process for making transport bylaws was streamlined, and these were transferred from the Transport Act 1962 to the Land Transport Act 1998 (the Act). (This completed the transfer of required provisions from out of the Transport Act 1962 and allowed that Act to be repealed.)

Provisions to enhance the effectiveness of existing Land Transport Act provisions

  • Remove the current 6-month statute bar for bringing a prosecution against a person for providing false details to Police.
  • Extend the provisions for the issuing of search warrants so that the New Zealand Police will be able to apply for a search warrant for alleged breaches of Chain of Responsibility provisions (these relate to commercial vehicle drivers speeding or breaching work time limits, or commercial vehicles being dangerously overloaded).
  • In order to prove unlicensed transport services, allow sworn or non-sworn Police employees to check the computerised transport licensing system and create, sign and produce a certificate to the Court showing that a named operator does not hold a transport service licence on the licensing system register. Prior to the Amendment Act this power lay only with NZ Transport Agency staff.
  • Amend the Land Transport Act 1998 so that a print-out, signed by a Police Officer, from the New Zealand Police’s computer system may be produced in court as prima facie proof that the person concerned has incurred at least 100 demerit points within a 2-year period.
  • Amend the scope of the Minister’s rule-making powers to:
    • allow for the publication of operator ratings derived from all event data, not just safety-related data
    • allow incentives or rewards for high performing operators under the operator licensing system.
  • Amend the Act to confirm that foreign driver licences as well as New Zealand licences can be seized by police (where a driver is subject to 28-day roadside licence suspension). This clarified Police powers and improved the effectiveness of 28-day roadside licence suspensions. Police developed a standing instruction to its staff on what to do with the licence.
  • Amend the Act to expressly allow the taking of blood by a doctor in charge of a hospital or surgery and allow those already authorised to take blood to do so independently of the direction of the doctor in charge.
  • Amend the Act to require a person taking a blood specimen to notify the Police Commissioner of the approved laboratory the specimen will be sent to for analysis only if there is more than one approved laboratory. Currently there is only one laboratory so this requirement adds unnecessary complication and cost.
  • Amend the reference to ‘approved analyst’, in respect of whom notification is required, to ‘approved laboratory’.
  • Authorise a suspension made under sections 87D to 87G (eg a taxi driver accused of assaulting a passenger) to take effect when the notice is served on a transport service driver, driving instructor or testing officer. Prior to the Amendment Act, the current law required that the suspension took effect 28 days later.
  • Provide for the correction of errors and clarify aspects of transport law that have caused difficulties in interpretation for Police and the Courts.

Provisions to improve demerit point system

Provision has been made for changes that would allow:

  • A licence suspension for accumulating 100 demerit points would only reduce the total demerit points by 100, and not remove all active demerit points on the licence. These would remain active for up to two years.
  • More than one period of licence suspension being able to be imposed for demerit points accumulated in multiples of 100 (ie 200), and that such periods of licence suspension will be served consecutively.

Provisions to enhance the effectiveness of Land Transport Rule-making 

  • Measures to improve the efficiency of the Land Transport Rule-making process. These improve the responsiveness of this process.

Questions and answers on provisions in the Amendment Act passed by Parliament.

Regulatory Impact Statements on provisions in the Amendment Act passed by Parliament.