New Zealand Nuance #4: Speeding

The default national speed limit in New Zealand is 100km per hour (62mph) or on some expressways it can rise to 110km per hour (68mph) and unlike the UK, it is pretty strictly enforced. You’d probably (but not always) get away with doing 80mph on a clear motorway or dual carriageway in the UK but you most certainly wouldn’t in New Zealand.

I just want to point out that my here observations only apply to ‘low level’ speeding offences. Clearly if you drive like a maniac, you should not be allowed behind the wheel of a car and should most definitely have your licence taken away from you.

In the UK, if you get caught by a speed camera, in most cases you’ll be able to choose from three options: paying the fine and taking the penalty points, going to court to settle it or taking a speed awareness course (at the eye-watering cost of £100) with a slightly reduced fine and no penalty points. Most people choose the latter option although if you’re caught again within 3 years, you’re not allowed to take another course; you have to accept the points and pay the fine. And in the UK, penalty points stay ‘active’ on your licence for 3 years although most insurance companies will ask you to declare any points you’ve received in the last 5 years, something which has always seemed very unfair to me.

If you break the speeding limit in New Zealand, you’ll only get points on your licence (known as ‘demerits’) if you’re caught by the police and they usually stay active on your licence for 2 years. Unlike the UK, there is no course you can take to avoid them. If you’re caught by a speed camera however, the punishment is limited to a fine and the size of the fine is dependant on how much over the speed limit you were going.

While minor speeding incidences would be classed as ‘infringements’ rather than ‘offences’ and would therefore be of little interest to New Zealand Immigration, I would probably avoid testing that theory if you’re waiting for a residence visa.

Drive carefully, people………………

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