From 1 October 2014 imposing an alcohol interlock has become mandatory for all drink driving offences committed after this date, regardless of the BAC reading. This means that when a Magistrates grants a Licence Eligibility Order it will be conditional upon an interlock device being fitted to your vehicle. The electronic breath-testing device is wired to your ignition and can be fitted to cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Currently there are around 5400 interlock devices, however with the change in legislation this number is expected to increase to around 10,000. The interlock devices are also capable of taking a person’s photo to make sure that the correct person gives the sample. The images will be viewed by the interlock supplier during the scheduled maintenance, and will form part of any reports outlining possible breaches. The average cost of having an interlock in your vehicle for a 6 months period is around $1065 which is payable by you. Further changes to interlock requirements are expected to take place in 2016, to increase the number of interlock devices to a possible 13,300 devices fitted each year. Many also believe that in the near future interlock devices may be a standard feature in all new cars.
What are the new interlock requirements?
For all drink driving offences regardless of your BAC reading, or if it is a non BAC offence, then an interlock will be imposed for a minimum period of 6 months. For those with a second drink driving offence, and a reading under .015%, a 12 month interlock will be imposed. If your reading is over .15 then there is a mandatory 4 years. If your offence was for non BAC drink driving offence then you will be required to have an interlock for 4 years. If it is your third, or subsequent, offence for any reading level you will be required to have an interlock installed for 4 years. Other non BAC offences in which you may lose your licence such as negligently causing serious injury, manslaughter, dangerous driving, and culpable driving causing death will all have a mandatory 6 months interlock condition. If it is your second offence this will be increased to 3 years, if it is your third, or more offence, you will have to have an interlock for 4 years.
What are the main differences with the changes?
These changes will mainly affect those who are caught drink driving with a BAC level of under .15% after 1 October 2014. Prior to this date the requirement to have an interlock was discretionary. This means that at the time of the hearing of your Licence Eligibility Order the Magistrate would take into account the circumstances of the offence, and make a decision as to whether the interlock condition should be imposed, or not. The Magistrate no longer has that discretion. For Non BAC offences, as mentioned above, the changes have also removed the discretionary power of the magistrate for first time offences making it now mandatory.
How to apply for the removal of the interlock
Once you have had the interlock condition placed on your licence, and you have served the required time, you will need to apply to have the condition removed. If you didn’t have to apply to the court for a Licence Eligibility Order when you got your licence back, then you can apply directly to VicRoads to have the condition removed. However, if the Court imposed the interlock condition as part of the Licence Eligibility Order then you will need to obtain an Alcohol Interlock Condition Removal Order from the Magistrates Court. It is recommended that at least 6 weeks prior to the end of your interlock period you attend the nearest Magistrates Court and lodge an application and obtain a hearing date.
While you can lodge the application while your interlock period is still running, the hearing date allocated will be after the period expires. The police also must receive at least 28 days’ notice of the hearing. This is why it is important to lodge your application early so you can get a hearing date as close as possible to the end date of your interlock condition. Once the application is lodged you must obtain reports from the alcohol interlock supplier and the driver education centre where you undertook your drink driving course.