The Victorian government’s new plan to install alcohol interlock devices on cars of all drink drivers will save lives, says Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan.
The radical reform of Victoria’s road laws was in response to a government road safety survey, which found 83% of respondents favouring an increase in the use of interlocks.
Currently, only repeat offenders, drink drivers who blow over .15 and drivers under 26 who blow .07 and over are required to have interlocks fitted.
The new law will require all drink drivers who blow above the legal limit (0.05 for fully licensed drivers, and 0.00 for learner and probationary drivers) to install an interlock in their cars, except in exceptional circumstances determined by the courts.
How does an interlock device work?
An interlock device prevents a car from starting up if the driver fails to register a zero BAC reading on the device. Alcohol interlocks such as the AlcoSense FR9000 Alcohol Interlock Device have various advanced features, such as circumvention records, rolling retest, bypass detection, and power interruption, that will ensure that anyone who has been drinking does not get behind the wheel.
Alcohol interlock devices are one of the most effective ways to stop drink driving. The AlcoSense FR9000, for example, has an onboard date logger that records every interaction that the driver has with the vehicle and various features to prevent any driver from evading the breath test.
To prevent any circumvention, the AlcoSense FR9000 interlock device has sensors to measure human temperature and humidity. Also, a breath test can be set to occur at fixed or random intervals (the rolling retest feature), so that the driver has to pull over to take another breath test. If the driver has been drinking after starting the car and fails the rolling retest, the circumvention alarm sounds and the event is recorded into the circumvention record.
The circumvention record records all data including missed appointments, BAC levels, activity, power interruptions (caused by tampering with the vehicle), bypass detection and failed rolling retests. The circumvention records can then be used in the courts when deciding whether the interlock device should be removed.
Will installing an interlock device help?
Andatech believes that it will, and so does many other government officials, safety groups such as RACV and Road Trauma Victoria, and families of victims to drink driving incidents.
Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said that the police expect that the new laws will have a significant positive impact on road trauma. He cited research from the US, which found that there was a 50 per cent drop in repeat drink driving offenders as a result of installing alcohol interlock devices. Similarly, RACV, Road Trauma Victoria, Vic Roads, as well as the public support the new law.
With drink driving a factor in 25 to 30 per cent of deaths on Victorian roads and up to 30 per cent of drink drivers re-offending, Mr Ryan says the new law could bring about a strong cultural change and save 50 lives a year.
People get killed on our roads not because of accidents – it happens because people make poor choices and the issue here is do not drink and drive.
The cost of drink driving should also be a major deterrent for potential drink drivers:
- The fine for drink driving ranges from $423 to thousands of dollars, depending on the BAC level, the severity of the offence, and whether it was a first offence or a repeat offence.
- Drink drivers could get jailed for 3 months to 2 years, demerit points, license suspension or disqualification, or attend court.
- Under the new law, drink drivers who drive over the legal limit would be required to install an interlock device at their own cost. This could cost almost $2000 a year including installation fees and monthly fees.
Mr Ryan affirmed his belief that the new law would help to reduce road incidents caused by drink driving, and even suggested that alcohol interlocks could eventually become standard in all new cars sold in Australia.
Work has already begun on drafting the legislation and the Victorian State Government will be enacting it as soon as possible.
What do you think about the new legislation? Will it help with reducing drink driving incidents on the road or is it too radical? Tell us what you think in the comments section below and vote in our poll here
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