How to get your licence back

Drink drive image
Indefinite disqualification:

This page is to assist drink drivers who have been disqualified indefinitely under section 65 of the Land Transport Act 1998 (or section 30A of the Transport Act 1962).

Judges are required to disqualify the offender indefinitely…

  • if they incur three convictions for drink driving within five years; or,
  • if they have two convictions within five years and, for one of those convictions, the drink driver was more than twice the legal limit (over 1000 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath to be precise). 

How long is indefinite? 

Theoretically, an indefinite disqualification means the driver has been disqualified for the rest of their life. However, this is not how it works in practice.

After a minimum period of one year and one day, someone who has been disqualified indefinitely can apply to have their disqualification lifted. This involves an assessment with a certified alcohol and drug (AOD) counsellor. Depending on the outcome of that assessment, which also involves a blood test, the counsellor may or may not recommend to NZTA that your indefinite disqualification should be lifted.

Important distinction:

Some drivers are disqualified by the judge for exactly one year and one day. This is a fixed term disqualification (one year, one day) – after which you will have to resit your licence, but do not have to see an AOD assessor or have an assessment.  Being disqualified for one year and one day is not the same as an indefinite disqualification.

What you need to do

If you are disqualified indefinitely, there are three steps to regain your license.

StepStep One: You’ll have to have an AOD assessment and prove to the satisfaction of the assessor and NZTA that you’ve dealt with your alcohol or drug problem.

i) The assessment includes a liver function test. The test measures the level of key enzymes in your bloodstream which are involved in the metabolization of alcohol – high levels of enzymes may indicate excessive alcohol consumption.

ii) The assessment includes urine drug screen to ascertain if you have been taking illicit drugs or are on medication which may impair your ability to drive safely.

iii) You will also need to provide the assessor with a copy of your criminal and traffic history – which you can get from the court, your probation officer or your lawyer. The assessor needs to know how many alcohol related convictions you have in order to conduct a risk assessment.

iv) You may be asked to provide contact details of one or two people who know you well who can confirm that you have your drinking under control.

Step Two: The assessor complies the information in a report which is sent to the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) with a recommendation that you should (or should not) get your licence back. If the NZTA agrees, they will send you a letter advising that your disqualification has been removed.

Step Three: On receipt of this letter, you then have to resit your driver’s licence.

How long does it take?

With no complications: The interview with the assessor may take an hour. Getting the blood tests done and getting the results back to the assessor may take a couple of weeks. If there are no problems and the assessor recommends that your disqualification should be lifted, once the final report is sent to NZTA, they take about three weeks to make their decision. So at the quickest, the whole process takes six to eight weeks.

With complications: If the assessor finds that you don’t have your drinking under control, or that there are other complications (such as illicit drug use), then you may be required to attend a  programme for repeat drink drivers; or you may be required to attend ‘treatment’ in order to stop drinking. How long all that takes is up to you.


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