Legal Aspects

A court based penalty for drink drivers

interlock_deviceThe Alcohol Interlock Program is a court based penalty for drink drivers that varies between states. In some states the program enables drivers convicted of certain alcohol-related offences to continue driving after a reduced disqualification period if they obtain an interlock driver licence and participate in the program, while others have a mandatory program that begins when a drink drive offender’s suspension from driving has been completed.

Which states have Interlock Programs?

South Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and New South Wales have interlock programs, and ACT is currently putting a program in place that should begin in 2014.

Who is eligible?

WR3SmallWeb2The court will decide who is eligible to enter the program. Each state has different methods of implementing the program. But in NSW you MUST request an interlock penalty at the time of sentencing. You CANNOT appeal to get an Interlock later.

What is an alcohol interlock?

An alcohol interlock device is an electronic breath testing device connected to the ignition of a vehicle. The vehicle will not start unless the driver passes a breath test.

Why is the interlock penalty being introduced?

WR3SmallWebThe Australian Transport Council (2007) reported that, in Australia, more than 20% of drivers and riders killed have a blood alcohol level that exceeds the legal limit. Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of injury and approximately 23% of injured drivers test positive to alcohol. Approximately 1 in 300 drivers tested at random breath testing stations exceeded the legal alcohol limit. Casualty crash risk doubles when driving with an alcohol level just in excess of 0.05 and a high proportion of habitual drink drivers have clinical alcohol dependence problems. The interlock provides drink drivers with an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and to legally drive when they are sober. The interlock also helps to remove drink drivers from our roads.

Road Safety

Every life we lose on our roads is one too many. Road trauma causes great pain and heartbreak to those Australians who lose family and friends in road crashes. Road safety is a shared responsibility and all Australians can contribute to safer roads and safer driving behaviour.

There are eight states and territories in Australia and each of these states are empowered to develop their own alcohol-related driving laws. General penalties are applied in accordance with the licence type and blood alcohol level of the driver/rider. There are a number of licence types which include learner, provisional/probationary, professional drivers and open or full licences.

Drink driving – the facts


Drink driving is a factor in about one in every five crashes in NSW where someone loses their life. Of the people who are killed, 88 per cent are men and 75 per cent are under the age of 40.

You don’t have to be drunk to be affected by alcohol. You might feel normal but no one drives as well after drinking alcohol.

Novice drivers with any level of alcohol in their blood are at a much higher risk of crashing.  This is why learner and provisional licence holders are restricted to a zero alcohol limit.

Getting back to zero (sobering up), takes a long time. No amount of coffee, food, physical activity or sleep will speed up the process.

In NSW, police have the power to:

  • Stop drivers at random to test for alcohol.
  • Arrest drivers who test over the legal limit.
  • Arrest drivers they believe are impaired by drugs, and conduct a blood and urine test
  • Require a driver to undergo a sobriety test in certain circumstances.

Since the introduction of RBT in 1982, fatal crashes involving alcohol have dropped from 40 per cent of all fatalities to the current level of 19 per cent.

Last year police conducted 3.4 million breath tests in NSW.

Drink driving is stupid.