Drink driving reforms came into effect on 10 September 2021.
The reforms incorporate an overhaul and expansion of the existing Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program, and the introduction of education programs. There are considerable new consequences if you choose not to participate in both programs.
Expansion of the existing Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program:
If you have been charged with any of the following, you will now be subject to the Alcohol Interlock Program through the Department of Queensland Transport for a minimum period of 12 months:
- driving under the influence of alcohol,
- drink driving with a blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or more,
- failing to provide a blood/breath specimen for analysis,
- dangerous driving while affected by alcohol,
- 2 or more drink driving offences (regardless of BAC) within 5 years.
This program is automatic upon being found guilty or pleading guilty to the abovementioned offences. The program does not need to be ordered by the court and will be enforced by the Department of Queensland Transport. The court has no power to order or direct that you are exempt from this program if you have been found guilty or plead guilty to the abovementioned offences.
What is the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program?
An Alcohol Ignition Interlock is a device that will be fitted to your vehicle and will prevent your vehicle from starting unless you provide a specimen of your breath which contains a no alcohol reading.
Under the new program, all interlocks will be fitted with a camera which will take a reference photo at the start of the program and each time a breath sample is provided. These photos can be reviewed to ensure the driver provided the breath sample and is complying with the zero BAC requirement. It is an offence for someone else to blow into the interlock device for the interlock participant.
If you are subject to interlock, you will be required to pay all associated fees to install the interlock and remove the interlock. This is estimated to be, on average, $3000 per vehicle for the first 12 months. Some exemptions for the program exist under very strict requirements.
Is it Mandatory?
The Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program is not mandatory. HOWEVER, if you choose not to participate in the program, then you will not be able to drive for 5 years from the end of the licence disqualification period.
Requirements of the Program:
Under the new reform, there are two parts of the program that must be completed:
- Learning period – the first 8 months of the program
- Performance period – last 4 months of the program
How Long is the Program?
The minimum period on the Program is 12 months. However, given the program is now performance based, if a driver fails any of the interlock breath samples or breaches other conditions, their Interlock Program will be extended.
Can I still get a work licence?
Eligible convicted drink drivers who are granted a restricted (work) licence by the courts are not exempt and must have an interlock device installed to any vehicle they drive, including work vehicles. You may need to seek your employer’s permission to have an interlock installed in a vehicle.
Introduction of Education Programs:
There are two education programs being introduced as part of the reforms.
Foundations course applies to all drivers who commit and are convicted of a drink driving offence (from 10 September onwards). Drivers who don’t complete the course will not be able to apply for their licence for 5 years.
Comprehensive course applies to any drivers who commit and are convicted of two or more drink driving offences from 10 September onwards. These repeat offenders will need to undertake this multi-session course in order to complete the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program.
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