Interlocks for all drink drivers

Person driving car with reduced focus

Kathryn Kernohan

Posted February 19, 2018

The penalties for drink-driving have just become a lot tougher.

Tough new penalties for drink driving now mean that drivers detected at 0.05 or over will receive a fine, lose their licence for three months and will be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to their car for at least six months after regaining their licence. All offenders will also be required to complete a behaviour change program.

The changes also apply to commercial drivers with a first offence BAC reading under 0.05.

A range of new laws, coming into effect 30 April, will strengthen penalties for drink drivers and keep Victorian road users safer.

Around 3000 full licence holders are detected in this BAC range each year in Victoria, with data showing that drink drivers are twice as likely as other road users to be involved in a road accident.

Drink driving contributed to around one in five (19 per cent) Victorian road deaths over the past five years.

In a Victorian first, drivers detected at 0.05 or over will be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to their car for six months, costing the driver about $180 to install as well as ongoing servicing costs and a $100 removal fee.

A licence ban combined with an alcohol interlock is very effective, with a recent study demonstrating that while drivers were banned there was a 70 per cent reduction in repeat drink-driving and a 79 per cent reduction in crashes.

RACV’s Manager Safety Education, Melinda Spiteri, says the organisation welcomes the changes.

“RACV supports stricter penalties for those who drink drive, and the government’s latest announcement addresses RACV’s previous calls to expand the alcohol ignition lock program,” she says.

“It sends a clear message that drink driving isn’t acceptable, and if you are going to drink you shouldn’t drive.”

Melinda says such measures must be part of a holistic approach to tackling drink driving and accompanied by alcohol rehabilitation and community education programs.

In line with this, convicted drink drivers will be required to attend a behaviour change program focusing on alcohol screening and assessment as well as techniques to address the underlying causes of drink driving.