Assessing Fitness to Drive

Table of Contents

Appendix 5 Alcohol interlock programs

Summary of State and territory laws on BAC and driving (as at September 2015)
Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory’s alcohol interlock program commenced on 17 June 2014.

High-risk drink-driving offenders (high range and habitual drink-driving offenders) are required to participate in the ACT alcohol interlock program as a mandatory condition of relicensing. For these high-risk offenders, participation in the program may include a court-ordered therapeutic component as well as a requirement to drive only a vehicle fitted with an interlock device. All high-risk offenders are required to undergo a pre-sentence assessment by the Court Alcohol and Drug Assessment Service.

Voluntary participation is an option for other drink-driving offenders, who may reduce their total disqualification period by agreeing to participate in, and comply with, an alcohol interlock program. These offenders may elect to apply for a probationary licence, which will be issued subject to an interlock condition, at any time during their disqualification period.

High-risk offenders who obtain an exemption from participation in the scheme are required to complete their full disqualification period before applying for a probationary licence. Exemptions are available only where special circumstances exist.

There is a six-month minimum program participation period, with program participants required to demonstrate a continuous period of three months’ compliance with the interlock program (i.e. no alcohol detected in the person’s breath samples) and compliance with any treatment order before the interlock condition may be removed.

Further information can be found on the ACT Road Transport Authority website at

<http://www.rego.act.gov.au/licence/act-road-rules,-laws-and-publications/alcohol-ignition-interlock-program>.

New South Wales

The New South Wales Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program commenced on 1 February 2015.

High-range and repeat drink-driving offenders are required to participate in the program (the blood alcohol content is zero), unless the court makes an interlock exemption order. The requirements apply to specific offences declared ‘alcohol related major offences’ in s. 209 of the Road Transport Act 2013.

Interlock orders may also be made by a court if a person is convicted of dangerous driving offences as prescribed in s. 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 where the offence involved the presence of alcohol.

The holder of a licence subject to mandatory alcohol Interlock licence conditions, in addition to other conditions that may apply to the licence, must not drive a motor vehicle with a placard load within the meaning of the Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Regulation 2014.

At the end of a court-ordered interlock period, Roads and Maritime Services may refer interlock licence holders to a medical professional for assessment under the Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines if interlock data indicate that further medical assessment for substance misuse may be required. Based on the recommendation of the medical professional, Roads and Maritime can extend the interlock condition for a further six months. At the end of this period, these drivers will be required to undertake another fitness to drive assessment before they complete the program.

Further information can be found on the Roads and Maritime website at

<http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/safety-rules/offences-penalties/drug-alcohol/interlock-program.html>.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory’s Alcohol Interlock Program was introduced in 2009.

The program applies to repeat drink-drivers convicted of a relevant offence on a second and subsequent occasion including: driving with a high-range blood alcohol content (BAC of 0.15 per cent or greater); driving with a medium-range blood alcohol content (BAC of 0.08 per cent or greater, but less than 0.15 per cent); driving under the influence of alcohol or both alcohol and a drug; failing to provide a sufficient sample of breath for a breath analysis; failing to give a sample of blood for analysis; or driving with alcohol in the blood if the driver is subject to a zero alcohol limit.

The program is a period of driving under conditions, which include the requirement to drive a vehicle fitted with an alcohol ignition lock (AIL). The court may, in addition to disqualifying a person from driving for a mandatory period, order an AIL period ranging from six months to three years.

When the mandatory disqualification period ends, a person can apply for an AIL licence and have an AIL device installed by an approved supplier or, if they opt not to drive, serve out the court-imposed AIL period as an additional disqualification period.

To obtain an AIL licence a person must have held a driver licence other than a learner licence within the previous five years and completed the drink-driver education course relevant to the offence.

Further information can be found on the Northern Territory Department of Transport website at

<https://nt.gov.au/driving/driving-offences-and-penalties/alcohol-ignition-lock-order/introduction>.

Queensland

Drink-drivers who are convicted of driving while over the alcohol limit, driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to provide a breath specimen for analysis, dangerous driving when adversely affected by alcohol, or two or more drink-driving offences of any kind within a five-year period are subject to Queensland’s Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program.

Drivers subject to the program must comply with the no-alcohol limit at all times when driving and only drive a vehicle that has been nominated to the department and fitted with an approved interlock.

To complete the program a person must hold a valid licence with an ‘I’ (interlock) condition and have an approved interlock installed in a nominated vehicle for a minimum period of one year. If a person chooses not to have an approved interlock installed, they are not allowed to drive for two years from the end of their disqualification period for the drink-driving offence. Exemptions are available only where special circumstances exist.

Further information can be found on the Queensland Government website at

<https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/road-safety/drink-driving/penalties/interlocks/index.html>.

South Australia

The Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Scheme (MAIS) commenced in South Australia in 2009. This scheme is an administrative scheme administered by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles under s. 81E of the Motor Vehicles Act 1959.

All people who commit a serious drink-driving offence are liable to the scheme on returning to driving after completion of the court-imposed disqualification period. A serious drink-driving offence is defined as: a second or subsequent offence, within a period of five years, of driving with a BAC at or above 0.08; driving with a BAC at or above 0.15; driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor; or refusing to provide a sample of breath or blood for the purpose of alcohol testing.

The conditions apply for a period equal to the disqualification period ordered by the Magistrates Court plus any immediate loss of licence suspension issued by the South Australia Police, to a maximum of three years. The MAIS requires the person to nominate a vehicle(s) that he/she will drive for the period the conditions apply and to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to the vehicle(s). The person must not operate any other vehicles.

Exemptions are available only where special circumstances exist.

Licence holders who are assessed by an approved assessment clinic as dependent on alcohol can make an application to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles for a licence subject to an interlock condition. If approved the person is granted a licence subject to the interlock condition; this condition can only be removed where the licence holder is assessed by an approved assessment clinic as non-dependent on alcohol. If the person does not agree to the interlock condition, they are refused the issue of a licence until they are assessed as non-dependent.

Further information can be found on the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure website at <http://www.dpti.sa.gov.au/towardszerotogether/Safer_behaviours/alcohol_drink_driving2/ mandatory_interlock_scheme_faqs>.

Tasmania

Drivers convicted of drink-driving offences are subject to Tasmania’s Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program (MAIP). The scheme is administered by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles under the Vehicle and Traffic (Driver Licensing and Vehicle Registration) Regulations 2010.

The program applies to drivers convicted of: a drink-driving offence recording a BAC of 0.15 or more; two or more drink-driving offences in a five-year period; driving under the influence of liquor; or failing to provide a breath/ blood specimen for analysis.

Participants serve a disqualification period and then are required to have an interlock installed in a nominated vehicle at the conclusion of their disqualification and before their driver licence can be issued/reissued.

Tasmania’s program is a minimum of 15 months consisting of a nine-month ‘learning period’ and a six-month ‘demonstration period’.

There are limited grounds for exemption to participating in the Tasmanian MAIP.

Further information can be found on the Tasmanian Department of State Growth website at

<http://www.transport.tas.gov.au/licensing/offences/interlocks>.

Victoria

New laws relating to alcohol interlocks came into effect in Victoria in October 2014.

Under these laws, alcohol interlocks are mandatory for: *every first offender who has a probationary licence or learner permit (at any BAC level); other drivers who have a BAC of 0.07 to 0.15; drivers with a BAC under 0.07 whose licences are cancelled, including professional drivers of buses, taxis and vehicles over 15 tonnes; all repeat offenders with a BAC reading under 0.07; and first serious alcohol-related offences under the Sentencing Act 1991, such as culpable driving involving alcohol.

Any driver or motorcycle rider whose driver licence and/or learner permit is cancelled, or who is otherwise disqualified due to a drink-driving offence committed on or after 1 October 2014, will be required to install an alcohol interlock in any vehicle they drive or ride as a condition of relicensing. The length of time drivers will be required to have an alcohol interlock installed ranges from at least six months for a first offence and up to four years or more for serious and repeat offences.

* From 1 October 2014, any learner permit and/or probationary licence holders with a first BAC offence between zero and less than 0.05 will have a three-month licence cancellation and an alcohol interlock condition of at least six months.

Further information can be found on the VicRoads website at <https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/licences/demerit- points-and-offences/drink-driving-offences/changes-to-the-alcohol-interlock-program>.

Western Australia

From October 2016, high-end and repeat drink-drivers who commit offences will be subject to Western Australia’s Alcohol Interlock Program under the Road Traffic Amendment (Alcohol Interlocks and Other Matters) Act 2015.

Offences include first-time driving under the influence of alcohol offences; first-time failure to provide breath, blood or urine sample offences; first-time dangerous driving causing death, bodily harm or grievous bodily harm offences where the offender is under the influence of alcohol to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of a vehicle; and second or subsequent drink-driving offences of any kind within a five-year period.

Drivers convicted of alcohol-related offences on seeking authorisation to drive will have their licence endorsed with an interlock condition restricting their driving to vehicles fitted with an approved alcohol interlock device.

The period a driver is required to have an interlock installed in their vehicle is referred to as the ‘restricted driving period’. The disqualification imposed by the courts and the type of licence granted to a person will determine the length of the restricted driving.

The program includes support by means of an alcohol assessment and treatment component and extension of time on the interlock devices for those found to be noncompliant.

Further information can be found on the Western Australia Road Safety Commission website at

<https://www.rsc.wa.gov.au/Documents/Law-Changes/rsc-alcohol-interlocks-fact-sheet.aspx>.