Changes to Road Transport Act 2013 in a response to addressing drink driving offences.

Posted by Malcolm Campbell on 27 January 2015

In an attempt to address high-range and repeat drink driving offences, the New South Wales Government has made a number of amendments to the Road Transport Act 2013.  The changes will see an interlock device introduced as mandatory to all alcohol related major offences.

Currently, an interlock order is a special order that the Court has the discretion to impose as a result of certain offences following the serving of the specified minimum disqualification period.  An interlock licence is issued to the offender and the interlock device is fitted to enable them to drive one specific car for a designated period of time following the serving of the disqualification period.  The Road Transport Amendment (Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program) Bill 2014 is set to significantly change the landscape. Instead of the interlock orders being discretionary, as they now are, the changes require the Court to make a interlock orders in respect of all High Range and/or repeat drink driving convictions.

Any driver convicted of a High Range offence (involving a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or above), or a second or subsequent drink driving offence (the first offence having occurred within the past 5 years) committed after 1 February 2015, will be ordered to have the alcohol interlock device fitted to their vehicle for a minimum of 12months following the disqualification period.  Fines will also apply to tampering with or removal of the device. 

A “mandatory interlock order” sets out a period of disqualification that must be served (which is DIFFERENT to the periods that had to be served under the previous regime) as well as a period of time that MUST be served on the interlock. If you do not serve this period on the interlock, your disqualification reverts to 5 years from the date of conviction.

Interlock devices require the driver to record a zero level of alcohol in their system before the car will start and cost approximately $2,200.00 to have fitted. Statistics indicate that one in six drivers caught returning a higher than prescribed blood alcohol level are repeat offenders.  Approximately 20,000 drivers are convicted in New South Wales of drink driving offences every year and statistics indicate that one in six drivers caught returning a higher than prescribed blood alcohol level are repeat offenders . Based on those numbers, upward of 6,000 offenders could be affected by these changes each year.