Alcohol Interlock Device (ACT)

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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Interlock Driving Licence (ACT)


The Alcohol Interlock Program is a sentencing option for courts dealing with drivers convicted of drink-driving offences. The program is designed to enable convicted drink-drivers to continue to legally drive. The exact period of disqualification depends upon the offence charged.

The program is mandatory for repeat offenders and those people found guilty of a Level 4 (high-range) offence. Other drink-drive offenders can take up the interlock voluntarily, and return to the road immediately.

The program addresses underlying alcohol abuse issues through its requirement that mandatory participants attend an assessment by the Court Alcohol and Drug Service before an Interlock Driver Licence is issued.

It is governed by the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2000.

How does the interlock device work?

A government-approved interlock device is an electronic breath-testing device wired to the ignition of a car to prevent the car from being started unless the driver passes a breath test. To reduce the potential for bystanders to start the car, the interlock device is programmed to require retests to be taken at random intervals. The device is programmed to immobilise the vehicle in response to failed breath tests.

Mandatory participation

A person must take part in the Alcohol Interlock Program if they are convicted or found guilty of an alcohol-related disqualifying offence:

  1. of  having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more; or
  2. of refusing to provide a breath or blood sample related to alcohol; or
  3. at the time of conviction or finding of guilt you have been convicted of two or more alcohol-related disqualifying offences (including the current offence) within the previous 5 years; and

Voluntary participation

If you are convicted of a blood-alcohol-concentration offence and do not meet the conditions for a mandatory interlock licence condition, you can elect to apply for a probationary licence with a voluntary interlock condition as soon as the court imposes a disqualification period, provided you are not otherwise disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence.

You have the Interlock only for the length of your disqualification period, unless your disqualification is for less than six months, which is the minimum interlock period.

What are the costs?

Each approved Interlock supplier is required to make their fees and charges publicly available.

Typically, the costs for the minimum six-month Interlock period would be about $1200 (for installation, monthly servicing and removal of the Interlock). For each subsequent 12 months on the program, costs would be about $1800 for monthly servicing.

You may be eligible for a 35 per cent discount on installation, monthly servicing and removal costs if you hold a current, valid Centrelink or Veterans Affairs concession card.

There may be additional costs for unscheduled servicing and lockouts, if you breach the compliance requirements.

Getting the interlock condition removed

Before the RTA removes the interlock condition on your licence, it must be satisfied that none of the following has occurred in the final three months of your interlock period:

  1. you drove a motor vehicle other than the vehicle nominated, and fitted with an approved interlock;
  2. you drove a nominated vehicle without first providing a sample of your breath to the interlock;
  3. you drove a nominated vehicle when you knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the vehicle’s interlock was not operating properly or had been interfered with, eg battery disconnection of more than 20 minutes or the device had been tampered with;
  4. you committed an interlock period breach:
    1. by providing a blood-alcohol concentration sample of 0.02 or more; or
    2. by providing more than 1 blood-alcohol concentration sample of more than zero but less than 0.02; or
    3. by failing to provide a breath sample when required (eg at a running test).

Penalties

If found guilty of contravening the condition of your licence that you must only drive a nominated vehicle fitted with an interlock, you face a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $7000 and/or six months’ imprisonment.

If you are convicted, your interlock licence is automatically cancelled unless the court orders otherwise. If the licence is cancelled, you may be disqualified from applying for, or being issued with, another driver licence with an interlock condition for the remainder of the disqualification period.

What happens if more than one driver uses the same interlock device?

Access Canberra must be aware which driver is using the interlock at any point in time. This will require the use of technology, such as a camera, which can identify which driver is responsible for data recorded by the interlock, particularly to find out who, if anyone, provides a breath sample containing alcohol.

Interlock suppliers notify Access Canberra of the start, amendment or end of arrangements with interlock drivers.

Nominated vehicles and company cars

If you drive a company vehicle, you need to nominate a vehicle so that both the device supplier and Access Canberra can track the use of the interlock, and make sure you fulfil the requirements of the interlock program. If you drive a company vehicle, you will need to gain your employer’s permission for an device  to be installed in the vehicle so that you can legally drive that vehicle.

Can someone else drive a car with an interlock device?

Yes, others, such as family members can drive your car with an interlock device fitted. They will need to provide a breath sample to start the vehicle. Regardless of whether these drivers are legally subject to the general alcohol limit (0.05), they will be required to drive with no alcohol in their system.

If another driver attempts to start the vehicle and the device records alcohol in their breath sample, the vehicle will not start and the attempt will be recorded by the device. As this breach will be recorded by the device, it is important that you ensure that other drivers are aware of this and that you take steps to prevent such an event occurring. You may wish to consider using camera technology to establish the identity of any other driver responsible for breaches on your interlock device.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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