October kicks off with drink-driving interlock enforcement

They say beer before wine makes you feel fine; perhaps a new slogan across Australia can be: beer before driving could cost you a living.

New and stricter road laws have come into enforcement this month to prevent drink drivers from taking to the road.

Breathalyser and interlock devices will be fitted on vehicles in Victoria from October 1 to prevent proven drink-drivers who have had their licences cancelled from taking to the road when under the influence.

The government's toughened legislation could have a profound effect on fleet managers unaware of their drivers' social lives.

The new rules lower the allowed blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers of fleet and and commercial vehicles, according to a release by the Transport Accident Commission. Interlocks will be fitted to the vehicles of drivers with a BAC under 0.07 and whose licences have been cancelled, "including professional drivers of buses, taxis and vehicles over 15 tonnes."

Also targeted by the new rules are:

  • All probationary drivers and learner drivers regardless of their BAC.
  • Other drivers who have a BAC of 0.07 to 0.15.
  • All repeat offenders with a BAC reading under 0.07.
  • Novice motorcycle riders who are subject to a zero BAC limit.
  • Serious alcohol-related offences under the Sentencing Act 1991, including first offences.

Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said the government predicts that at least 10,000 offenders will have locking devices fixed to their vehicles - doubling the current figure.

Mr Mulder said: "Drink drivers are responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of deaths and 11 per cent of serious injuries on our roads. Even more astounding is the fact that 20 per cent of people caught are repeat offenders, so we are cracking down on them as well as first-time offenders.

"The alcohol interlock condition will apply for at least six months after re-licensing and at least 12 months for repeat offenders," he concluded.