The Government of Western Australia (WA) has launched a new campaign intended to raise awareness about the health risks associated with harmful drinking, following the publication of statements indicating that beverage alcohol-related illnesses remain a top concern for WA health professionals. WA Minister for Mental Health Andrea Mitchell stated that the WA government has allocated AUD $300,000 for the campaign, which will include a series of alcohol awareness advertisements, and a website asserting the financial and health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.
Acting Premier, Police and Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey also announced new penalties, designed to protect vulnerable children and crack down on irresponsible parents, which are part of a suite of tough new road safety laws.The laws will come into force if the Liberal-National Government is re-elected in the March State election. A first-time driving offence where drivers record a blood alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08 will double from $500 to $1000 under the proposed changes, while for a second offence the maximum fine will jump from $1000 to $2000 if a child under 16 is a passenger. The fine for a third or subsequent drink-driving offence where the driver records a blood alcohol level of more than 0.15 will jump from $5000 to $10,000 and the prison term will increase from 18 to 36 months with a child in the car. Back calculations for roadside breath testing would also be removed under the initiatives, so that the reading a driver blows at roadside would be what they are penalised from. Police currently back calculate to incorporate when the driver had their last drink, which is a method no longer used in other states. Funding for dangerous driving education campaigns would be increased from $6 million to $16 million. Ms Harvey said there would also be a new offence created for drivers found to be both drink and drug-driving and the penalty for the new offence will be double the fine or jail time of the drink-driving offence. Victoria is the only other State to introduce a combination drink and drug-driving offence, which came into force in 2015. WA police will also be told to drug test every drink-driver instead of only conducting drug tests at random or when a driver appears drug affected.