PenaltiesContact Alistair Haskett free on 0800 DRINK DRIVE (0800 374653) or 021 920031

The maximum penalty for a first or second adult excess breath or blood alcohol conviction is 3 months imprisonment or a fine up to $4,500.00, and mandatory disqualification for 6 months or more (unless special reasons can be shown).

On a third or subsequent adult excess breath or blood alcohol conviction the maximum penalty increases to 2 years imprisonment or a fine up to $6,000.00, with mandatory disqualification of more than 1 year (unless special reasons can be shown).

The penalties are the same for refusing blood, and there are similar penalties for other drink drive related offences. Some offences relating to drink driving attract demerit points. If you get certain repeated convictions in a 5 year period indefinite disqualification may apply.

The law also allows the court to order different sentences to those above, such as community work, supervision and home detention.

Have you considered all the possible consequences of a conviction?

Is drink driving a criminal offence? This is a question we are often asked. The answer is yes. If a conviction is entered you will have a criminal record.

Other consequences of a conviction are likely to depend on the seriousness of the offending, such as the level of intoxication and nature of driving, whether it is your first or subsequent offence, whether and when a guilty plea is entered, your personal circumstances and other relevant factors.

Depending on the circumstances of a particular case the consequences of a conviction may include:

• Penalty ranging from a fine, community work, community detention, home detention to imprisonment, although in some cases a discharge with or without conviction or an order to come up for sentence is made.

• Supervision or intensive supervision orders as part of some sentences, typically for bad cases, repeat offenders or where addictions are apparent – these orders typically require completion of alcohol or drug counselling.

• Mandatory disqualification from driving for a minimum of 6 months for a first or second offence and more than 1 year for a third or subsequent offence, although there are limited exceptions to this and a 3 month minimum period applies to drivers under 20 years of age and convicted for exceeding the youth limit.

• Some offences relating to drink driving have demerit points, which could take you over the maximum of 100 points in a clear 2 year period.

• Indefinite disqualification from driving in specified circumstances, which also results in the inability to apply for a limited licence and permanent loss of the benefit of the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004.

• A 3 year zero alcohol licence order in some cases, which means you must have no alcohol in your system when driving.

• A 28 day stand down period after conviction before a limited licence can be applied for and the possibility that a limited licence would not be granted if the threshold test cannot be met.

• Inability to apply for a limited licence in other specified circumstances, which includes having previous convictions for specified types of traffic offences committed within five years of the date of the current offence.

• Confiscation and sale of the car in specified circumstances.

• Employment difficulties ranging from an inability to perform a current job to missing prospective jobs because of a conviction.

• International travel difficulties ranging from exclusion from visa waiver programmes to total prohibition on entry to other countries.

• Insurance difficulties ranging from increased premiums to insurance being declined.

• Family difficulties arising from a conviction, the inability to drive or restricted scope of driving under a limited licence.

See our pages on offences and defences.

Or call Alistair Haskett now on 0800 DRINK DRIVE (0800 374653) or 021 920031, or email your enquiry to