Restricted drivers are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious-injury crash than other drivers.

Young drivers on their restricted licence are over-represented in crashes on New Zealand roads. 

A restricted driver is at the greatest risk of having a crash in the first six months of driving solo than at any other time of their life. This increased risk is partly due to driving inexperience. 

Driving is a handy skill to have, it puts you in control of your own safety.

The thing is, you need to earn your car driver licence first – and that means learning all the skills.

Getting a licence(external link)

In 2014 the breath alcohol limit for drivers aged 20 years and over reduced from 400 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath, to 250mcg. The blood alcohol limit reduced from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, to 50mg (or 0.05 grams). 

Drivers who test between 251-400mcg of breath face infringement fees and demerit points. Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years will receive a three month driver licence suspension.

Drivers who are over 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, or 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, continue to face criminal sanctions.

The zero alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 remains the same. Be careful that you don’t drive the morning after a big night out as you could potentially still have alcohol in your system.

Planning for a night out

No one wants to plan the perfect night out, only to have it turn into a complete nightmare – but in so many cases, when alcohol is involved, that’s exactly what happens.

Here are some tips to help you plan a fun and safe night out with your mates if alcohol is involved.


  • Pace: Take it easy when drinking. Try taking sips or drinking non-alcoholic beverages between each drink. Don’t try and keep up with your mates – everyone handles alcohol differently.
  • Limit: Set limits for yourself and stick to them.
  • Avoid: Stay away from drinking games, sculling competitions, shouts, and rounds.
  • No: Sometimes a simple no is all you need to avoid being pressured into doing stuff you don’t want to.


  • Have a back-up plan if your sober driver is no longer sober.
  • Have extra cash for a taxi ride home.
  • Go out with friends you trust who will look out for you.
  • Stand up and say "No" to catching a ride with someone you think may have been drinking.
  • Look after your designated driver – shout them some non-alcoholic drinks or pay for their petrol.
  • Have something to eat before you start drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach is just asking for trouble.
  • Keep your phone topped up and check to see if your parents are OK to pick you up if your planned ride home fails.
  • Check out our wallet card(external link).

Being the sober driver

There are a lot of upsides to being the sober driver. There’s no hangover, you save money, you get to laugh at your mates making idiots of themselves and everybody loves you for taking care of them and getting them home.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? 

If your friend was meant to sober drive but has been drinking, it’s best to take the keys off them and organise an alternative way home for you and your mates. It’s not easy to stop a friend from driving, especially if others are encouraging it, but don’t be afraid to speak up and look after your friends. Remember: If you stop a drink driver, you're a legend.

Taxis can be expensive so make sure you check out what buses travel near your house and ask your parents, or your friends’ parents, if it’s OK to call on them if your plans fail. They would much rather you call them in an emergency than risk your life with a drunk driver.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) 

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your body.  It is measured in grams of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

BAC reduces by approximately 0.015 each hour after drinking has stopped.

Some of the factors affecting BAC are: 

  • amount and rate of alcohol consumed
  • gender and body weight
  • amount and type of food eaten and time since eating
  • fitness, fatigue and rate of metabolism
  • your mood,
  • the state of your liver
  • medications and hormone levels

The effect of alcohol on your body and your mates will vary, so it is important for your safety and others not to try and match each other drink for drink.

Females are generally affected more by lower levels of alcohol.


Drivers must drive within all of the conditions listed on their drivers licence, and drive according to New Zealand's traffic laws.

If you are on a restricted drivers licence there are specific rules that apply.

Failure to do this will incur penalties such as fines and demerit points. You could even have your licence suspended, or be disqualified from driving.

For a first-time offender charged with drink driving, the standard penalty is imprisonment for up to three months or a $2250 fine, and disqualification from driving for a minimum of three months.

More information can be found on the NZTA website(external link).

Crash Bash logoCrash Bash is an educational road safety programme organised by the Christchurch City Council, supported by funding from Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

The programme uses a contemporary stage performance to raise awareness of the risks for young drivers including not wearing seat belts, speeding, distraction, alcohol, drugs and peer pressure. The essence of the messages to students surrounding risk is to think about making safe choices for themselves and others. 

The performance is developed and toured in the first term around schools in greater Christchurch by Christchurch’s very own Court Theatre.  A new theme is developed each year in collaboration with Canterbury Police based on key safety concerns within the Canterbury region affecting young drivers.   

The performance is pitched to secondary school students in years 11 to 13. The popular show uses an effective mix of contemporary drama and video clips to communicate to young people in a relatable manner. 

More on Crash Bash.

  • In 2015 young drivers aged 15–24 were involved in 90 fatal traffic crashes, 579 serious injury crashes and 2,608 minor injury crashes.
  • Of these crashes, the 15–24 year-old drivers had the primary responsibility in 72 of the fatal crashes, 464 of the serious injury crashes and 1,993 of the minor injury crashes. These crashes resulted in 80 deaths, 548 serious injuries and 2,760 minor injuries. 
  • The total social cost of the crashes in which 15–24 year-old drivers had the primary responsibility was $951 million. This is 25 percent of the social cost associated with all injury crashes
  • Male drivers in the 15–19 year age group are approximately eight times more likely to crash (per 100 million kilometres driven) than male drivers in the lowest risk age group of 55–59 years.
  • Female drivers aged 15–19 are about six times more likely to crash (per 100 million kilometres driven) than female drivers in the lowest risk group of 45–49 year olds.
  • Drivers in the 20–24 year old age group are approximately three to four times more likely to crash than the lowest risk group of the same gender.