The NSW government is introducing new measures to prevent drink driving, with more than 20,000 motorists convicted of this offence in the state each year.
NSW Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay revealed that a mandatory alcohol interlock program will begin on February 1 in an effort to reduce the number of people driving under the influence.
Interlock devices are similar to breathalysers and are fitted to a vehicle’s ignition, meaning the driver must pass a breath test in order for their car to start.
Mr Gay said the technology would be used on people who are repeat offenders or were found driving with exceptional levels of alcohol in their system. He argued that the scheme helps provide a physical barrier to prevent further crimes occurring.
Getting behind the wheel while drunk is one of the leading causes of car accident injuries, along with speeding, fatigue and recklessness. Offenders will be forced to have the alcohol interlock devices in place for 12 months if they fall foul of the initiative.
“This program is about protecting innocent people who unfairly have their lives shattered by a drunken idiot,” Mr Gay explained.
“Most offenders face up to their actions and don’t re-offend, but unfortunately one-in-six offenders will get another drink driving offence within five years – it is this group we are targeting.”
Participants foot the bill
According to the roads minister, the initiative is expected to have as many as 6,000 new participants every year.
People involved in the program must pay $2,200 annually to the organisation that provides the interlock device, with Transport NSW currently deciding between three technology firms.
“Penalties for people who attempt to abuse the system will be harsh, including those who attempt to help participants evade the system, who will face a fine of $2,200,” Mr Gay said.
Offenders will only be allowed to use vehicles fitted with the technology, and the devices are set to a zero blood alcohol concentration level. This means individuals must avoid all alcohol consumption if they want to drive.
The interlock program is just one of a number of measures the state government is introducing on February 1 to prevent car accident injuries and deaths on NSW roads.
Drink drivers who are caught twice within a five-year spell will be forced to pass a suitable knowledge test before they can regain their licence.
Similarly, anyone who exceeds the demerit point limit twice over a five-year period must resit and pass their Driver Knowledge Test and a driver education course.