Alcohol Interlock Devices (Vic) | Armstrong Legal

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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 (Vic)


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 Victoria, if a person is found guilty of a drink driving offence, a combined drink and drug-driving offence, or offences committed under the influence of alcohol, they must have an alcohol interlock device installed on a vehicle they drive for a specified period.

The Victorian Alcohol Interlock Program

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 blood alcohol content (BAC). The length of the alcohol interlock period depends on the offender’s driving history. For first-time offenders, a minimum six-month period is automatically imposed. For repeat offenders, the period depends on how many convictions the person had has in the previous 10 years. Convictions older than 10 years are not considered.

The 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 VicRoads to make decisions about the program participant’s licence. Participants can register to access the data on the VicRoads Alcohol Interlock Management System.

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.

Failed BAC readings and violations

A violation will be recorded if the participant:

  • records a BAC of 0.02 or higher;
  • refuses to take a breath test when the device requests;
  • tampers with the interlock.

If a participant drives a vehicle that does not have an alcohol interlock device fitted, they risk a penalty of four months imprisonment or vehicle immobilisation.

Installation and use of the device

Alcohol interlocks can be fitted to most vehicles with an ignition, including motorcycles. An alcohol interlock supplier installs the device, issues an Alcohol Interlock Installation Certificate, 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. The supplier is required to also collect a cost recovery fee for VicRoads to deliver the program. There are no exemptions for this fee but concession-card holders may be entitled to a reduced fee.

How to have the device removed

Once the device has been fitted for the specified period, an offender can apply to VicRoads to have the “I” licence condition removed. VicRoads assess the data recorded by the device and criteria including:

  • there must be a minimum number of months of alcohol interlock usage data;
  • the first month is an adjustment month and is not counted;
  • for a month to be considered, a participant needs to:
    • take all breath tests requested by the device;
    • have no confirmed violations;
    • drive the vehicle at least twice;
  • if a failed reading or violation is recorded, there must then be five violation-free months;
  • the participant must not tamper with the device.

If an application is successful, the participant will receive an alcohol interlock removal authority and a new licence with the “I” condition removed. The vehicle can then be presented at the alcohol interlock supplier for removal of the device.

If an application is unsuccessful, the participant will be contacted by VicRoads with the reason(s) and review options. An internal review request can be made to VicRoads within 28 days of the decision. If VicRoads does not remove the licence condition, the participant can apply to the Magistrates Court for a review of a decision about who was driving at the time of a failed breath test, but not whether the licence condition should be removed.

Behaviour Change Programs (BCP)

Before an alcohol interlock device can be removed, a participant may be required to complete a Drink Driver Program, Drug Driver Program or Intensive Drink and Drug Driver Program. A participant in the Intensive Drink and Drug Driver Program must also complete a Pre-Interlock Removal Behaviour Change Program before a removal application will be granted.

The programs are 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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