RMB Articles

How the Alcohol Interlock Works

Posted 29-02-2016
Written by admin 101
Category Criminal Law

Since February 1 last year, a mandatory alcohol interlock program has been applied to drivers convicted of high range, repeat, and other serious drink driving offences. It is designed to reduce drink driving-related deaths and injuries on NSW roads.

Interlock is an electronic breath testing device linked to the ignition of the offender’s vehicle. Before the offender can drive they must provide a breath sample that interlock analyses for the presence of alcohol.

If any alcohol is detected the vehicle will not start. Randomly timed breath tests must also be passed whilst driving.

The interlock program is a penalty under the Road Transport Act 2013 that is applied in addition to other penalties issued by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) or the court.

If you are convicted of a mandatory interlock offence on or after February 1, 2015 the court must make an interlock order or specifically grant an exception.

Mandatory interlock offences include:

  • Being caught in the high range or with a blood alcohol level of 0.15.
  • Being caught twice in a period of five years with low or middle range readings (from 0.05 up to 0.14).
  • Refusing or failing to submit a breath test.

Interlock Orders are imposed by the court, start at the end of the disqualification period and have a minimum period of 12 months.

Exemptions to interlock can only be granted in rare circumstances, for example a medical condition that prevents the offender from providing a sufficient breath sample or if he/she does not have access to a vehicle.

The cost of the program is about $2200 a year, a significant hit to the offender's back pocket. In certain circumstances a concession rate may apply.

The participant must only drive a vehicle fitted with interlock, ensure they provide breath samples honestly, attend all medical consultations required and have the device serviced regularly.

Once the offender’s disqualification period ends and the interlock period is set to start, the offender must complete a number of steps before they can apply for their interlock licence. The offender will need to see a doctor and get a medical consultation certificate, install interlock and attain the installation certificate, then finally visit the RMS and sign up to the conditions imposed with this type of licence.

Once participants have completed the period of interlock imposed, they can visit a doctor to undergo a “Fitness to Drive” assessment, after which, based on the outcome of the assessment the interlock restriction could be removed.

If you, your family or friends wish to enquire about a similar circumstance, please email us on our "Ask Us a Question" feature or call (02) 4228 8288 to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers.