Driver Impairment (Complete)

To better understand issues associated with impaired driving, the AA Research Foundation has commissioned several studies from RIDNZ (Researching Impaired Driving in New Zealand) on use of alcohol interlock devices as well as impaired driving offences. 

Under-use of alcohol interlocks (2021) - Did not proceed

Previous research and monitoring of interlock sentencing had revealed that around half of offenders who were qualifying for an alcohol interlock were getting an exemption from the courts. The AA wanted to understand why.

However, a request to look into a sample of records from court proceedings was not permitted by the Chief District Court Judge for privacy reasons. The AA had wanted to examine a small sample of cases to see if there were common reasons behind the exemptions.

In pushing for this information, the AA has drawn attention to the issue and the Transport Minister and others in the Justice and Transport sectors (who all have responsibilities in delivering the interlock programme) have since started to focus on the issue of reducing unnecessary exemptions.

Mandatory alcohol interlocks in New Zealand (2019)

On 1 July 2018, new legislation came into force in New Zealand which requires judges to sentence high-risk drink drivers to an alcohol interlock. The AA Research Foundation (AARF) wanted to understand how successful the new mandatory alcohol interlock legislation has been.

The AA Research Foundation commissioned Gerald Waters from Reducing Impaired Driving in New Zealand to undertake two studies looking at the numbers of people being sentenced to an interlock since the law change and also reviewing the interlock process to see how many of those sentenced were going on to obtain an interlock licence.

Research Reports:

The first six months of mandatory alcohol interlock sentences in New Zealand

The New Zealand Alcohol Interlock Programme - A Process Review

First year of alcohol interlocks in New Zealand (2014)

Alcohol interlocks (in-car breath testing equipment that disables a vehicle if alcohol is detected) became a sentencing option in September 2012. Repeat drink drivers (2+ offences within 5 years) and people caught at double the alcohol limit (0.16 BAC) can be given an interlock sentence by a judge. The offender is usually required to pay the costs of about $2500 a year for the interlock.

This research project examined the use of alcohol interlocks as a sentencing option one year after they were enabled in legislation.

Research report:

The New Zealand Alcohol Interlock Program: A review of the first year as a sentencing option for high risk drivers.

This project was instigated to contribute to the Ministry of Transport's review of impaired driving penalties (including interlocks).

Recidivist drink drivers (2013)

This research project looked into the characteristics of recidivist drink-drivers.

The research found that over half the drink-drivers caught in recent years had previous convictions.

Research report:

Drink/Drug Driving Data 2009-2012 and Preliminary Report on Interlock Uptake in New Zealand.


AA position on drink driving

Read about the AA's views on drink driving and use of alcohol interlocks:

Based on drink driving court sentencing records, the AA believes at least 5,000 high-risk drink drivers should have an alcohol interlock installed each year.

Page last updated: May 2022

New! Our navigation has changed.

Use this button to access the site content.

 |  Learn more