Alcohol Ignition Interlock - Drink Driving - Traffic Lawyers Brisbane

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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Alcohol Interlock Devices (Qld)


An alcohol interlock device measures and records the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath. It prevents a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected. It also requests breath tests during a trip. If a test is failed or not taken, the vehicle’s horn and lights will activate.

In Queensland, if a person is convicted of driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or higher, they must have an alcohol interlock device installed on a vehicle they drive for a minimum of 12 months. The use of alcohol interlock devices is governed by the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program

The program applies to drivers convicted of high-risk drink driving offences. These include:

  • failing to provide a blood/breath sample for analysis;
  • dangerous driving while affected by alcohol;
  • 2 or more drink driving offences within 5 years.

Once a licence has been reissued after an offence, it will have an “I” condition which means the holder can only drive or ride a vehicle fitted with an alcohol interlock device and must drive with zero BAC. If a person chooses not to fit an interlock to their vehicle, the person cannot drive for 5 years.

The program has an 8-month learning period and a 4-month performance period. During the performance period, the device monitors breath samples each time the vehicle is used as well as scheduled interlock services. If the device detects alcohol or a scheduled interlock service is missed, the 4-month performance period restarts.

If a driver subject to an interlock condition drives a vehicle that does not have an interlock device fitted, they face a maximum penalty of a fine of 28 penalty units ($3859.80). If the driver has been convicted of this same offence within 5 years, they face a maximum penalty of a fine of 60 penalty units ($8271). For this offence, a court can also extend the driver’s licence disqualification by up to 6 months.

The interlock device

Whenever the vehicle is used, the device will record actions such as blowing into the device and turning the engine on and off. The data is downloaded by the device supplier at scheduled services and used by the Department of Transport and Main Roads to make decisions about the program participant’s licence.

Cameras

All alcohol interlock devices are required to have a camera. The device supplier will take a reference image at installation, which is compared to images the device takes during each trip, including when the driver blows into the device. The images are used to provide a record of who is driving the vehicle.

Installation and use of the interlock device

Alcohol interlocks can be fitted to most vehicles with an ignition, including motorcycles. An alcohol interlock supplier installs the device and shows the client how to use the device. The vehicle then needs to be presented for monthly scheduled servicing.

Any person who drives the vehicle will need to be trained to use the device.

Costs

The alcohol interlock supplier charges for installation, monthly leasing and servicing and removal. There are no exemptions for this fee but people who meet criteria under an income and assets test may be entitled to financial assistance.

Exemptions

A driver can be granted an exemption from having an interlock installed in limited circumstances, such as where the driver:

  • lives in a remote location;
  • lives on an island;
  • has a medical condition which prevents them from providing enough breath for a sample to operate the device;
  • or their family will experience severe financial hardship if an exemption is not granted.

Drink Driving Education Program

Before an alcohol interlock device can be removed, a participant will be required to complete a multi-session, comprehensive course for repeat-drink drivers, Plan.Drive.Survive. The program is designed to help offenders identify the underlying reason for their offending and ways to reduce the risk of re-offending.

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

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