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It has now been 3 years since the New South Wales government drastically altered the way that drivers convicted of drink driving offences are sentenced.
For many years magistrates have had the option of ordering that a person disqualified for drink driving had the choice to have their licence returned to them sooner if they agreed to have an interlock device installed in their car for a period of time. The changes made by the New South Wales government made these orders compulsory for anyone who has committed a High Range Drink Driving Offence, or a person who had committed a lower level Drink Driving Offence where there the person has committed another Drink Driving Offence in the previous 5 years.
The laws also take effect when a person was convicted of the serious offence of refusing a breath analysis, meaning the court has no way of knowing what their reading might have been.
There is no doubt that a consequence of these laws has been a large increase in the number of people who have had interlock devices installed in their vehicles. The vehicle will not start if the person fails the breath test, and the failure will be reported to the authorities. The goal is to assist the person to learn to disconnect drinking from driving.
No doubt there will, in due course, be research into whether these interlock devices have reduced the rate of reoffending for people who have had them installed.
Anecdotally, however, people have told us that having the machine installed in their car has meant that every time they step into a car they have to turn their mind to their alcohol consumption. This is crucial as many people who commit drink driving offences do not deliberately flout the law, but simply never consider whether their alcohol consumption is such that they should not drive.
Moreover, many people find having the interlock device in their car embarrassing, expensive and unpleasant, meaning that they have to confront their offending with their friends and family.
Given the danger that drink drivers pose to the community, one of the key goals for the government and the courts has to be reducing the rate of reoffending. So far, it appears to be working.
Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100