Drink and drive trap
118 ‘INTERLOCK LICENCES’ ISSUED
ONE in six drink-drivers forced to install an alcohol interlock device in their cars to get back behind the wheel is breaching their restricted licence. Figures obtained by The
Sunday Times reveal 118 “interlock restricted licences” have been issued since new laws came into effect in October last year.
In the scheme’s first 12 months, 86 people installed the breath-testing immobilisers in their vehicle, at a cost of about $1600 out of their own pocket.
But over that period, 19 breaches have been recorded — nine for three or more strikes in failed breath samples within a month, five for failing to attend a required monthly inspection of the device and three for “alleged tampering and/or circumvention” of the machine.
In two cases, drivers have been slapped with licence suspensions or cancellations while subject to the alcohol interlock scheme.
It is understood at least one of those incidents involved the restricted driver being caught with a blood-alcohol reading above 0.08 while driving a car not fitted with an interlock device.
Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts has signalled possible interest in an interlock model proposed for Victoria, which is tougher than WA’s scheme. If passed in Victoria, first-time drink-drivers will be forced to have interlock devices fitted to their cars, even for lowlevel offences.
The WA laws apply to highend or repeat drink-drivers — those convicted of driving under the influence (in excess of 0.15) or of a second drinkdriving offence of any kind within five years.
After serving their licence ban, they must install the breath test machine in their car, which prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has a bloodalcohol reading above 0.02, and stick to the strict conditions for at least six months.
Breaches result in the driver having to restart the six-month program, while for alcoholrelated violations the person is also forced to undergo mandatory counselling.
“The Road Safety Commission will monitor the outcomes of the proposed Victorian laws and I look forward to receiving advice on their effectiveness,” Mrs Roberts said.
She said she was open-minded when it came to the potential need to have stricter penalties for interlock breaches. “Whilst I’m disappointed one in six have breached and will cop the consequences of that, it would appear to be effective for five in six,” she said.
“As there is still only a small number of devices fitted to vehicles in WA, the RSC will continue to work closely with the Department of Transport and monitor any future breaches.”
Since October last year, 1619 people have lost their licences for “interlock” offences.