Drink and drive trap

118 ‘IN­TER­LOCK LI­CENCES’ IS­SUED

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - KATE CAMP­BELL

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.

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