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Law changes to improve transport safety and access

15 June 2005

Law changes to improve transport safety and access

The conclusion of the third reading of the Land Transport Amendment Bill is set to make our transport system safer and more accessible for many New Zealanders says Transport Minister Pete Hodgson.

The main points of the legislation include:

It is now illegal for those with convictions for serious sexual or violent offences to hold Passenger endorsements (Convicted rapists and murderers barred from driving taxis.)

Care workers specifically exempted from requiring a Passenger endorsements

Clarification of the rules allowing operators of courtesy transport services to continue to do so, and

Clarification of the rules applying to small electrically power vehicles such as mobility scooter.

There are also significant changes to the law applying to the worst speeders and drink drivers. From 16 January 2006, the Police will have the power to suspend licences at the roadside for 28 days for exceeding the speed limit by 40km/hour or having a blood alcohol level above 130mg/100ml (or breath equivalent). There is no change to the blood alcohol limit of 80/100ml (or breath equivalent).

These changes to the law are designed to make transport safer and to improve access to it" says Pete Hodgson. "In the past, those with convictions for serious convictions had been able to apply to the courts for permission to hold a Passenger endorsement after they had been refused one by Land Transport New Zealand. The law will now specifically bar those with the most serious convictions from gaining or holding a passenger endorsement.

"There has also been concern raised around whether or not care workers who, for instance, take older New Zealanders to the shops or to medical appointments, are able to do so without a passenger endorsement. All doubt will now be removed as they are to be specifically exempted."

More detailed information is available at www.transport.govt.nz/current/issues/
Notes to editors

Drink-drivers and speeding drivers Police can suspend driving licences at the roadside for 28 days for exceeding the speed limit by 40km/hour or having a blood alcohol level above 130mg/100ml (or breath equivalent). Previously roadside licence suspension applied for exceeding the posted limit by 50km/hour or having a blood alcohol level above 160mg/100mg. This provision applies from 16 January 2006. There is no change to the blood alcohol limit of 80/100ml (or breath equivalent).

A ‘ three strikes and you’re out’ approach for drink-drivers with a blood alcohol content over 80mg/100ml (or breath equivalent) who’ve committed three or more offences within four years. On the third offence vehicles will be immediately impounded for 28 days and licences disqualified for ‘more than one year’. This means drivers will have to re-sit their practical driving test at the end of the disqualification. This applies from 16 January 2006.

Taxi drivers and holders of a Passenger endorsement licence Taxi and bus drivers, and others with a passenger endorsement licence, will be automatically prohibited from driving in a passenger service if they are convicted of offences such as murder, sexual and serious violent offences. This comes into force from 16 January 2006 and will apply to previous offences as well as new ones.

A limited right of appeal will be provided for persons currently in the industry where: they have not been convicted of murder or sexual offences their qualifying serious offence occurred more than 10 years ago they have no other offences in the last 10 years that could have resulted in a prison sentence, and the Director is satisfied it would not be contrary to the public interest to reinstate the person’s passenger endorsement.

Taxis will now have to display their cab number and information about their company in Braille. This new provision will come into force when a new Operator Licensing Rule is introduced.

In key metropolitan centres (Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin), drivers will now have to hold ‘Area Knowledge ‘ certificates for the entire metropolitan area they operate in, instead of the more limited area where their Approved Taxi Organisation operates. This provision will apply when a new Operator Licensing Rule is introduced.

Commercial drivers The Act updates licensing provisions for commercial transport services and work time restrictions for commercial drivers.

New ‘chain of responsibility’ provisions mean that someone who knowingly causes a driver to commit specified offences, may also be charged. The offences include work time, overloading, speeding and load security offences. The majority of provisions affecting commercial drivers will come into force at a later date to coincide with the relevant Land Transport rule. (Operator Licensing Rule or Work Time and Logbooks)

General public Drivers can now be charged with driving offences causing injury or death in off-road situations. This includes dangerous, reckless and careless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This provision comes into effect immediately.

People upgrading from a limited or restricted licence, will now have to hand in their old licence when they receive their new one. This new provision, which applies immediately, is designed to help enforce liquor laws.

Owners of electric scooters and bikes Motorised vehicles such as electric scooters and bikes, are now exempt from ‘motor vehicle’ requirements if they have a power output of less than 300 watts. This applies immediately.

Note - The way in which the legislation is described in this press statement and notes to editors does not replace the wording used in the Bill as passed.

ENDS

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