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Staying Safe this Summer

Published: 27th November 2017

Author: Tanya Surrey, Mactodd

Published in: Fineprint | Issue #74

Driving, swimming pools and drinking

With the Christmas holidays coming up, we want to remind you about keeping safe this summer – on the roads and in the pool, and to reinforce the message about not serving alcohol to people who are not yet 18 years old.

On the roads

New Zealand’s road toll for 2017 is set to be one of the highest in recent years. These deaths and injuries from road accidents are a cause of great concern for police and road safety experts. A combination of speed, fatigue, alcohol and lack of driving skills are contributing to this year’s tragic statistics.

Drink driving: In 2014, new drink driving levels were introduced in an attempt to reduce the number of drink driving accidents. It is an offence to drive if your breath alcohol limit exceeds 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath or your blood alcohol limit exceeds 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

If your breath alcohol level is over 400 mcg (breath) or 80 mls (blood) you will find yourself appearing in the District Court. The maximum penalty for a drink driving conviction (400 mcgs or over) is three months’ imprisonment and disqualification of your licence for six months. The six-month disqualification is mandatory, other than in certain special circumstances.

New Zealand has a zero alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20.

Other road offences: As well as drink driving, there are many other offences in the Land Transport Act 1998 including careless driving, careless driving causing injury and dangerous driving.

Many of the driving offences in the Act will result in a disqualification from driving and, at the other end of the scale, a prison term. Don’t be that person who goes to jail.
The best advice when it comes to driving is simple: comply with the road rules at all times. It’s not hard and it could save your life. As the slogan says, ‘it’s better to arrive late than be dead on time.’

Swimming pools

We are all looking forward to a hot summer and spending time at the pool. The rule is that swimming pools must be fenced at all times. If you have a pool at home, you must know the rules about pool fencing – for the safety of your family, neighbours and visitors.

In January this year, the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 regarding pool safety took effect. Provisions relating to residential pool safety have been added to the Building Act 2004. All residential swimming pools must be fenced (and that includes certain inflatable pools). The key changes in the new law are:

  • Swimming pool owners can use alarmed gates or doors rather than automatically-locking gates
  • All residential swimming pools have to be inspected and certified by the local authority or a professional organisation every three years, and

Local authorities can issue notices to fix the fence, and can fine pool owners.

The new law removed the mandatory requirement to fence spa pools and hot tubs. Instead of fencing, those pools now require a lockable cover.


It’s not a Kiwi summer without a barbecue and relaxing with friends over a few cold ones.

Being a responsible host means keeping an eye on your guests’ alcohol consumption. Of particular concern is that when your children’s friends are over, you must comply with the rules around alcohol and teenagers. It’s a criminal offence to supply alcohol to people under 18 without the express consent of their parents. This means you must specifically ask those parents: you’re breaking the law if you don’t do this.

Everyone loves summer and the chance to spend time with family and friends over the Christmas break. Just remember to look after everyone around you – at home, on the roads and in the pool.
To read more about keeping yourself safe this summer, Postscript on page 6 has an item about keeping safe whilst boating, fishing and diving.

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  • Hawke's Bay
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  • Marlborough
  • Nelson
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

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Gawith Burridge

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