Interlock Exemption Orders (NSW) | Armstrong Legal

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Interlock Exemption Orders (NSW)


In NSW, any person charged with a drink-drive offence (other than a novice, special or low-range as a first offence), will receive a Mandatory Interlock Order upon conviction. However, it is not always possible for someone to comply with the Interlock program, and failure to do so when a mandatory interlock order is made will mean that the person’s licence is disqualified for 5 years. To avoid this situation, the courts are empowered to make an interlock exemption order. The effect of such an order is that the person does not have to engage in the interlock program. This article outlines when interlock exemption orders can be made in NSW. 

When can the court make an Interlock Exemption Order?

The circumstances under which a court can make such an order are limited. Section 211 of the Road Transport Act 2013 states that a court may make an interlock exemption order only if satisfied that:

  1. The offender does not have access to a vehicle to install an interlock device in;
  2. The offender has a medical condition diagnosed by a medical practitioner that prevents them from providing a sufficient breath sample to operate an approved interlock device and it is not reasonably practicable for a device to be modified to enable them to operate it;
  3. The offender is convicted of an offence of mid-range drink-drive (section 110(4)(a), (b) or (c)) or mid-range drink-drive and presence prescribed illicit drug (section 11A(2)) that is a first offence –
  4. That the making of a mandatory interlock order would cause severe hardship to the person; and
    1. That the making of an interlock exemption order is more appropriate in all the circumstances than the making of a mandatory interlock order.

It is important to note that the legislation specifically states that an interlock exemption order must not be made simply because:

  • The offender cannot afford the cost of an interlock device; 
  • The offender would be prevented from driving in the course of their employment;
  • The offender has access to a vehicle but the registered owner refuses to consent to an interlock device being installed. 

When can I apply for an Interlock Exemption Order?

An Interlock Exemption Order must be made at the time of sentence, otherwise, the mandatory interlock order will apply.

What is the effect of an Interlock Exemption Order being made?

Section 205 of the Road Transport Act 2013 lists the periods of disqualification available to the court if an interlock exemption order is made:

  • Novice, special or low-range drink-drive:
    • Major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 12 months reducible to a minimum of 6 months;
  • Mid-range drink-drive:
    • No major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 12 months reducible to a minimum of 6 months;
    • Major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 3 years reducible to a minimum of 12 months;
  • High-range drink-drive:
    • No major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 3 years reducible to a minimum of 12 months;
    • Major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 5 years reducible to a minimum of 2 years;
  • Combined novice, special or low-range drink-drive and with the presence of prescribed illicit drug: 
    • Major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 2 years reducible to a minimum of 18 months;
  • Combined mid-range drink-drive and with the presence of prescribed illicit drug: 
    • No major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 2 years reducible to a minimum of 12 months;
    • Major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 4 years reducible to a minimum of 2 years;
  • Combined high-range drink-drive and with the presence of prescribed illicit drug:
    • No major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 4 years reducible to a minimum of 18 months;
    • Major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 6 years reducible to a minimum of 3 years;
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol:
    • No major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 3 years reducible to a minimum of 12 months;
    • Major offence within the last 5 years: automatic disqualification of 5 years reducible to a minimum of 2 years;

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

This article was written by Cara Maynard - Senior Associate – Canberra

Before joining the team at Armstrong Legal, Cara worked as a DNA expert preparing and giving DNA evidence in criminal trials. In this role she liaised with police, DPP and defence practitioner regarding a variety of matters including DNA transfer, deposition and recovery. Cara has reviewed and interpreted thousands of DNA profiles that were reported as intelligence to the NSW...

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