Alcohol Interlock Program (Qld)
The alcohol interlock program was introduced in Queensland in 2010. The Queensland Government recently introduced changes to the program, which took effect in September 2021, and which apply to anyone who has been convicted of a relevant offence and has been disqualified from driving, with a disqualification period ending on or after 9 September 2021. This article outlines those changes.
What is the alcohol interlock program?
An alcohol interlock device is a device that is professionally fitted to a vehicle. When fitted, the device requires that the driver blows into the device before the vehicle can be started. It prevents the vehicle from being started if any alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.
Alcohol interlock requirements are handled by the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Courts do not make ‘alcohol interlock orders’ in Queensland.
Time-based Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program
Prior to the introduction of the 2021 changes, a person was required to participate in the alcohol interlock program upon the completion of their disqualification period if:
(a) they had been convicted of an offence of driving whilst under the influence of liquor (high-range drink driving);
(b) they had been convicted of an offence of dangerous driving whilst affected by alcohol;
(b) they had been convicted of an offence of failing to provide a breath sample; or
(b) they had been convicted of two or more drink driving offences in a five-year period
The time-based program applied to anyone whose licence disqualification period ended before 9 September 2021.
Before the new laws took effect, anyone subject to an interlock requirement was required to either have an alcohol interlock device installed for a period of 12 months from the time their licence was reinstated, or refrain from driving for a further two years after their disqualification ended. This was known as the Time-based Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program.
Performance-based Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program
The recent changes to the law saw the introduction of the performance-based program. Participation in this program is required if a person’s disqualification period ends on or after 9 September 2021. A person is eligible to apply from either the day after their disqualification ends or the day after a work licence (section 87) is granted.
The primary change that has been introduced in the performance-based program is the monitoring of interlock use data by the Department of Transport. This means that the Department will be able to see whether all required breath samples have been provided and returned a zero-alcohol reading. Further, the data will demonstrate whether scheduled interlock services have been attended.
A person has the option to participate in the performance-based program for 12 months. Alternatively, a person may choose not to participate in the program and remain off the road for a period of five years. The program consists of two parts, a Learning Period (8 months) and a Performance Period (4 months).
Interlock device use is monitored during the performance period. If any of the requirements under the program are not met, the four-month performance period will reset, and the 12-month period will be extended.
The interlock provider will advise the Department of Transport of any non-compliance with the requirements of the program, such as failing to attend scheduled services.
Participation in the performance-based program is required if:
(a) a person has been convicted of a high-risk drink driving offence before 9 September 2021, and their disqualification concludes on or after 9 September 2021; or
(b) a person has been convicted of a high-risk drink driving offence on or after 9 September 2021
A “high-risk offence” includes a mid-range drink driving offence.
Extension of Interlock Period
The Department of Transport and Main Roads has the authority to extend the duration of an interlock period in circumstances of non-compliance with the interlock conditions and rules. This authority applies to both the previous time-based program and the new performance-based program.
A person may apply to the chief executive to be exempt from interlock requirements. Grounds for exemption include:
- Living more than 150 km away from the nearest interlock provider;
- Medical condition(s) affecting a person’s ability to provide a sample of breath;
- Severe hardship (e.g. financial hardship)
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