Ignition locks for drink drivers

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In an effort to reduce the number of drink driving offences, alcohol interlocks will be made mandatory for high range and repeat drink drive offenders.

Alcohol interlocks are an electronic device connected to the ignition of a vehicle preventing it from starting if the driver has been drinking, providing an effective physical barrier between drinking and driving.

“Road safety experts estimate the introduction of mandatory interlocks will prevent at least 140 alcohol related crashes, six fatalities and 102 injuries in the first five years alone, ” said Roads, Minister Duncan Gay.

“We also believe there will also be about 500 fewer drink driving offences per year across the state once mandatory interlocks are introduced.”

According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, in 2011 there were 22,964 people charged with drink driving offences in NSW and approximately 17 per cent of drink-drivers return to court for another drink-driving offence within five years.

Anyone convicted of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.150 or above, or who commits two drink driving offences within five years, will be subject to the mandatory installation of an alcohol interlock system in their car.

NRMA Motoring and Services President Wendy Machin has welcomed the announcement.

“An NRMA survey found 80 per cent of people ranked tougher penalties for dangerous and repeat drink driver offenders as the top priority to keep roads safe,” Ms Machin said.

There is an alcohol interlock program operating in NSW, but it is a voluntary system and has only 700 participants.

All high range and repeat offenders will be required to fit an interlock for a minimum of 12 months which could see up to 8,000 people a year with interlocks in their vehicle.

Magistrates will have the power to set longer periods on the interlock if they think it is justified.

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