New laws for drink drivers

DRINK drivers will get more than a fine and loss of licence under strict new laws that took affect yesterday.

High risk drink drivers convicted from August 6 will have an “I” condition for “Interlock” placed on their licence.

This means they will need to install an alcohol ignition interlock in their vehicles by December 2010, on top of any disqualification period and fine.

An alcohol interlock is a breath-testing device connected to the ignition that prevents a vehicle from starting when the driver has a blood alcohol concentration above zero.

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said her department was committed to making the roads safer and was doing that by targeting drink drivers who had committed serious offences or who had a history of repeat offences.

“Some drink drivers just aren’t getting the message so these devices will force them off the road and if they don’t install an interlock, they will be banned from driving for two years,” Ms Nolan said.

Under new laws passed by parliament in March, the interlock (“I”) licence condition is an additional re-licensing requirement for drink drivers at the completion of their licence disqualification period.

“At the end of a disqualification period for drink driving, drivers will have an “I” condition attached to their licence for a minimum of 12 months,” Ms Nolan said.

“To get back behind the wheel, these drivers will have to install an interlock at their own expense for the 12 month period.”

The interlock “I” condition will be mandatory for:

 First time offenders (within a five year period) with a blood alcohol reading 0.15 or more, driving under the influence of alcohol or failure to supply a specimen for analysis

 Offenders convicted of dangerous driving when adversely affected by alcohol

 Repeat offenders convicted of two or more drink driving offences of any kind within a five year period.

“In July we introduced new laws requiring all Learner and Provisional drivers to have a zero blood alcohol level regardless of age, and alcohol interlocks are yet another initiative to cut the number of drink drivers on our roads,” Ms Nolan said.

“We’re determined to drive down the number of fatalities caused by irresponsible and reckless behaviour such as drink-driving. Seventy fatalities on our roads last year as a result of crashes involving drink drivers is 70 too many.”

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