Driver Impairment (Ongoing)

To better understand issues associated with impaired driving, the AA Research Foundation has commissioned RIDNZ (Researching Impaired Driving in New Zealand) to examine the Ministry of Justice records on impaired driving offences and uptake of alcohol interlocks. 

Phase One - Recidivist Drink Drivers

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.

Read the research report:

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


Phase Two - Use of Alcohol Interlocks

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.

Read the 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).


Phase Three - Alcohol Interlock use in New Zealand (Ongoing)

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) is interested in understanding how successful the new mandatory alcohol interlock legislation is.

Research Provider

  • Gerald Waters - Reducing lmpaired Driving in New Zealand (RIDNZ)

Project Manager

  • Dylan Thomsen – AA Motoring Affairs


In late 2018, the AA Research Foundation received the first quarterly report, provided by the NZ Transport Agency, on interlock uptake for high level and repeat drink drivers. It was pleasing to see that, compared to before the sentence became mandatory, interlock sentencing has increased. Consequently there has also an increase in interlock licences being issued and interlocks installed – but there are significant decreases between each stage of the process. 

There are several steps following an interlock sentence that someone needs to follow, with the final step being to have the interlock installed in their vehicle. There are costs involved and subsidies that some people can apply for to cover the cost.While it is early days, there is an awareness of the risk that interlock sentencing might not transpire into interlocks installed in all sentenced people’s vehicles.

Research Method

AARF felt there was an opportunity to better understand the steps in the process to see if there are common issues holding back progress to interlock installation. The research involved conversations with interlock providers and other relevant Government departments. It looked at interlock experiences in other countries and highlighted issues and solutions relevant to the New Zealand system.

Research Report

The New Zealand Alcohol Interlock Programme - A Process Review


AA position on drink driving

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

The AA's Election Calls in 2017 included calling for at least 5,000 high-risk drink drivers to have an alcohol interlock installed each year.

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