Canberra’s worst drink drivers will soon have alcohol interlocks fitted to their vehicles, as the government is expected to introduce tough new laws to crack down on repeat and high-range offenders.
The interlocks, announced as a $1.7 million Australian Capital Territory (ACT) election promise in September, will be compulsory for offenders with three or more convictions and for those who record a high blood alcohol content of 0.15mg or greater. Drink drivers will have to pay about $1000 for the installation and maintenance of the devices, which work in cars, trucks and buses and on motorbikes. The interlocks will also be voluntary for others convicted of a drink driving offence.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the devices allowed drink drivers to remain ‘active community participants’ by allowing them to drive after serving just part of their licence disqualification. The interlocks had a ‘therapeutic component’, which helped forge prolonged changes in behaviour
“These are repeat or high-range drink driving offenders, drivers whose records show that they have an inability to separate their drinking and driving behaviours without assistance,” Mr Corbell said.
Interlock technology was first developed about 1980 and most Australian jurisdictions, except for the ACT, have experimented with the devices since.
Several states, including Victoria, NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia, have schemes in place for serial drink driving offenders.
Mr Corbell said the ACT had introduced mandatory alcohol awareness courses and had broadened the categories of licences subject to zero alcohol concentration limits. Other reforms have included immediate licence suspensions for those who register 0.05 above the legal limit, and reducing the availability of restricted licences for drink drivers.