Sleeping it off? Probably not

With the new lower alcohol limits, people are discovering they are still over the limit when they drive home the next day.

The morning after your Christmas party might be your downfall under new drink drive laws.

The new limits will add a couple of hours to your sobering-up time, warns an emergency department specialist, meaning you could still be over the limit as late as mid-morning.

And women are particularly at risk of falling foul of the law, says clinical toxicologist Dr Paul Quigley.

“Even if females stop drinking at 1am and then go to bed and sleep they will still be over the legal limit at 10am. Under the old drink-driving levels they would just squeak under at 8am.”

The legal alcohol count for drivers aged 20 and over was lowered from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath (previously 400) on December 1.

Quigley expects more people will be ticketed by police in the mornings as stricter levels mean on average it will take men about an extra hour to fall below the new alcohol limit the next day, and up to two hours for women.

It’s getting to the point of “don’t drink and drive for 24 hours”.

“Sleep does not speed up being sober … our livers simply chug their way through one standard drink per hour, awake or asleep.

“Sleep may make you feel better, because when you wake you are less drunk and more energetic, but in fact you are still impaired for driving.”

Research by Quigley on how the new limits will impact on motorists will be sober reading for some drivers.

Using a case study of someone who consumed 13 standard drinks between 5pm and midnight, and then went to bed, under the old regime, men would generally be fit to get behind the wheel about 5.30am. But that would now stretch out to about 6.30am.

Women would have passed a breath test about 8am under the previous breath limits, but that would change to about 10am under the new rules.

Police expect to issue 19,000 additional tickets in the first year of the new regime, potentially netting $3.8 million.

aaand there it is.

It’s not about people driving around blind drunk.  It’s all about turning people who never ran foul of the law, and were absolutely capable as well as legal, into a revenue source.   The reduction in fatalities due to this law will be next to zero.  But the income for the consolidated fund will do very nicely thank you.

The bottom line remains – don’t drink if you’re going to be driving.


– Russel Blackstock, NZ Herald



THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • cmm

    Government has always been opposed to personal responsibility, hence the banning or over control of guns, fireworks, various useful chemicals, moderate drinking and driving, etc etc etc.

    This is done because a few people behave badly with said guns, chemicals, alcohol etc.

    Yet the people who really want to abuse things still continue to do so. The worst drink drivers still drink and drive, crims still get guns and rob, etc.

    It is only the law abiding responsible users that are negatively impacted.

  • cows4me

    It’s all a load of revenue gathering horse poo. Do you really think the police want you to totally sober up in the morning, come on, it’s a scam like climate disruption. The more people above 250 and under 400 the happier they will be. How many people are killed after a night of booze then sleeping and are under 400, sweet stuff all. They had the top copper yapping about the new enforcement regime on the radio the other day saying they had only issued 63 fines for exceeding the 250 limit since it was introduced. He was surprised and pleased with the result and said they might be reviewing it. Yeah I bet they will be reviewing it, it’s not the cash earner they had hope for. This will not do, the limit will have to come down. The police, especially the young ones have been brainwashed into believing drink driving and speeding are the most heinous of crimes and wrong doers must be hunted down like rabid dogs. Meanwhile real crime is increasingly ignored, not much cash in that.

    • sheppy

      Only 63? They must be gutted, expect more lucrative speeding enforcement to make up the shortfall whilst they work out what else they can use to extort money from motorists

      • cows4me

        Oh they’re gutted all right sheppy, the amount of effort ( time ) to gather this revenue will not be paying for it’s self, in fact they are probably losing money, so sad never mind.

        • sheppy

          Makes you wonder just how much they will be under budget with both the zero speed tolerance being badly received and the alcohol enforcement coming under budget – they must be desperate to declare the holiday period runs for 2 months when in reality the peak traffic is likely on only a few days over a 2 week period.

    • RightofSingapore

      Its folly to rely on stats just 2 weeks in. Also, even if you’re slightly under the old limit of 400, you are still affected in terms of your reflexes, concentration and judgment. We’ve all seen /heard examples of how 400 was too high, I would still be under 400 with 2 glasses of wine in me in a short time, but no way would I consider myself fit for driving. They are trying to lower the number of crashes caused by impaired drivers-drivers who are not concentrating/alert are a far biggercause of crashes than those going a few kph over the speed limit.

      • cows4me

        Sorry ROS but have to disagree. If 400 is to high lower it but don’t pretend this is anything other than revenue gathering with a touch of political posturing. It’s a law like CMM states that highlights weak government. The government is trying to appease those wanting to lower the limit while trying to appease those, the majority, that just want if left alone.

    • Cadwallader

      It’ll be interesting when a cop gets caught for drink/driving while on duty the following morning after a night out. The new bar for drink/driving will raise the value of inner-city dwellings as they’ll be in greater demand for those who wish to drink then walk home.

  • Davo42

    This is nothing more than revenue gathering, if it was essential to improve road safety they would have simply lowered the limit for our exisiting drink driving laws. I’m not pro drink driving but lets call it exactly what it is.

    • peterwn

      The relevant legislation was passed before the election. It was not raised as an election issue. In 2008 or so Simon Power tried to raise speed limit enforcement but it got nil traction, whereas with Crusher loss of traction could result in a car being crushed.

    • Hedgehog

      Call me a cynic, but I agree – the focus will go on morning enforcement. Much easier to gather the revenue. Yes, it’s all about road safety, policing school zones at 6 in the morning – yes I’ve seen it, and now it will be policing those driving in the morning will a breath alcohol limit of round 200 as apposed to those with way more in the late evening earlier hours of the morning.

  • pominthetron

    Think they have their maths wrong. If you consumed 13 units between 5pm and midnight then you have processed 7 units already leaving 6 units. Therefore all the booze would out of your system by 6am. Doubt you be over the limit around 2ish with 4 units in you.

  • This new limit is not going to solve the problem, in fact it seems to be targeting the people that have already aknowledged drink driving as a problem and are drinking sensibly. The real issues are those that are drinking to excess and these new limits will have as much effect on them as the old ones did. It time to look at other options, like seizing vehicals, or putting alchol purchase bans on repeat drink driving offenders.

    • Billythekid

      Ita about the income for the consolidated fund, nothing else. The legislators knew that but gotta keep the coffers topped up because there will be mp’s salary revues due soon. We are a gullible lot aren’t we ?

  • oldmanNZ

    I dont drink, but what just as dangerous as driving drunk, and it cannot be tested by driving tired and sleepy.

    You know how babies easily falls asleep in the car….I feel like that sometimes when driving. Need my afternoon naps.

  • KinaRolf

    I don’t drink at all, but this starts to look like the once long past fascism we once saw in Europe. The state decides autocratically, your only right is to do as the grass in the wind, bend over. Small extreme groups dictate your life, and the police job is to implement their will and power. We used to call that dictatorship, something that they always implement under the thick veil of “safety and security”. How can we get our old New Zealand back?

  • HSV325

    The 50 demerit points will have a number of people walking. If you have 50 or more demerit points and are nabbed under this new law you will be walking for 3 months. I drink and now will not be driving at all even after a single Heineken.

  • david

    I am increasingly convinced that this and the speed limit enforcement are not about road safety but are part of the anti-car agenda along with climate change. But then why would this government (which is more into building roads than rail loops) implement it? Maybe because the drink limit reduction was pushed vigorously by the MSM and the polls are reflecting public concern about alcohol use?

  • burns_well_eh

    I call “rubbish” on this so-called expert’s opinion. So full of generalisations about something with so many different factors at play renders his opinion worse than useless.

    The rate of metabolising alcohol is dependent on a huge number of different factors:
    1. Your rate of drinking – OK the last one was at 1am but when was the one before that?
    2. Your weight
    3. Your percentage of fat
    4. How much food you had during the evening
    5. When you had it
    6. What it was
    7. What type of drinks were they?
    8. Are you a regular drinker or an occasional tippler
    9. How fit are you
    10. How tired were you?

    And probably a few others I haven’t thought of. Scare-mongering using generalisations and ignoring all the different factors is poor behaviour from an “expert”.

    • bart jackson

      You are dead right. I have seen guys who have blown close to 900 ( more than double the old limit) who acted sober as a judge, and conversely Ive seen people blow in the 300s (under the old limit) who were barely capable of standing let alone driving.