Victorian drink-drivers will be forced to pay for ignition-locking ‘interlock’ systems to be installed in their cars by 2016, the state’s Coalition Government has confirmed.
The new law, to be introduced in State Parliament today, comes in response to a Road Safety Victoria study last year that showed that 83 percent of respondents favour increasing the use of interlock devices.
Convicted drink-drivers in Victoria are currently required to have the interlock devices installed if their offence included a blood-alcohol reading of .15 or more. Drivers under 26 are forced to install an interlock if a reading of .07 or more is taken.
However, a new two-stage program will begin in October this year, reducing that minimum reading to .07 or more.
Professional or probationary drivers - who are required to have no alcohol in their systems - along with motorists driving on a cancelled licence, will be forced to install an interlock device if a blood-alcohol reading of .05 is recorded.
From 2015, the program will expand to include camera systems to prevent the driver having a friend blowing into the device.
“Alcohol interlocks are proven to reduce repeat drink driving by up to 64 per cent while they are fitted. This program has already prevented people affected by alcohol from driving their vehicles more than 250,000 times,” Victorian Transport Minister, Terry Mulder, said today.
Current drink-driving offender numbers show that some 10,000 could be made to use the devices from October, with a cost of around $1000 each.
Those numbers would nearly double last year’s figures, with the current laws leading to 5400 drink-drivers made to install interlock systems.
Mr Mulder said drink-drivers are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of deaths and 11 percent of serious injuries on our roads, while repeat drink-drivers make up 20 percent.
Thirty per cent of drink-drivers involved in fatal crashes are repeat offenders.
Last year’s Road Safety study also claimed that, if alcohol interlocks were a standard feature in cars sold in Victoria, around 50 deaths and 500 serious injuries would be prevented each year.
“Technological advances mean that in the long-term alcohol interlocks are likely to be a standard feature of all new vehicles in Australia but, in the meantime, Victoria is leading the way in taking action to reduce the menace caused by drink driving offenders,” Mr Mulder said.
In October last year, the NSW Government announced similar legislation, to be introduced this year.
The new laws for NSW would mean that anyone caught twice within five years with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above, can expect to have the device fitted to their car.