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New drink-driving laws mandate interlock penalty for mid-range offences

Tough new Queensland drink-driving laws will see the installation of alcohol interlocks in the cars of drivers convicted of mid-range offences.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said yesterday that the changes would take effect from 10 September. The alcohol interlock program requires sentenced drink drivers to unlock their cars by passing a breath test on a device installed in their vehicle.

Mr Bailey said that, with drink driving accounting for a quarter of the lives lost on Queensland roads, the tougher laws would send a strong message to drivers who couldn’t separate driving from drinking.

“Last year, 62 people died on Queensland roads because of drink drivers,” he said. “The year before it was 46 people. Sadly, these numbers could be even worse this year, with the number of lives lost far too high.

“And these aren’t just numbers – these are all people whose lives have been cut short, and who have left families and friends behind.

“We know mid-range drink drivers account for more than a quarter of all drink-driving offenders and have a crash risk 20 times greater than someone who hasn’t had a drink.

“That’s why we’re expanding the alcohol ignition interlock program to include drink drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.10 and 0.149.

“Under the new laws, drink drivers will need to have an alcohol interlock in their vehicle until they can show a consistent record of clear breath tests over time.”

Mr Bailey said other changes included requiring all drink-driving offenders to complete an education intervention program before they can reapply for their driver’s licence.

“Education is also a key focus of the new laws,” he said. “For the first time, all drink-driving offenders will need to complete intervention or education programs before they return to driving.

“Research shows education programs reduce the rate of re-offending.

“These changes are a critical next step towards reducing road trauma caused by drink drivers and confirm our commitment to making our roads safer.”

The new laws will compel all first-time offenders to complete an online brief intervention education program before they can drive again. Repeat offenders will also have to complete a more intensive, multi-session program to help them change their behaviour.

Mr Bailey said the Government would not stop in its campaign to tackle road safety.

“We’re taking action right now by rolling out mobile and fixed cameras to catch drivers illegally using their mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts, anywhere, anytime,” he said. “In the first month of this rollout, almost 1400 drivers were snapped not wearing a seatbelt.

“People who are not wearing seat belts continue to be a serious problem with 43 dying on our roads last year.

“In this year’s state Budget we committed almost $1.7 billion to road safety, which will be used to prioritise safety upgrades, improve driver education, make school zones safer and develop policies to reduce road crashes and trauma.

“We’re doing our bit, but we need road users to do theirs, with the ‘Fatal Five’ – speeding, drink/drug driving, failure to wear a seatbelt, fatigue, and driver distraction – continuing to be contributing factors in more than half of lives lost.”

To support the performance-based interlock program, the current two years ‘sit out period’ that applies to those people who chose not to fit an interlock to a vehicle, will be increased to five years.

That means a person cannot drive for five years if they choose not to participate in the interlock program.

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