Seven Mile Beach, Broken Head
“Bold and Excellent”
Interlock or drinkerlock?
Catchwords: Crime, drink driving, mandatory interlock offence, novice range, special range, low range, middle range, high range, refusal or failure to submit to test or provide samples, ,drive under the influence of alcohol or drug, minimum interlock period, habitual traffic offenders, sanctions
A drink driving offence [PCA offence] committed after 1 February 2015 which is High Range, a serious offence or a repeat offence, will attract a “mandatory” interlock order. The interlock program ceased to be voluntary. It is mandatory.
For offences committed before this time, the old voluntary interlock program which commenced in 2003, is still in place. All others States and ACT have a mandatory interlock program either in place or awaiting commencement, except the Northern Territory.
The way it works is:
If the Court convicts of a “mandatory interlock offence” it must make one of two orders: either a “mandatory interlock order” or an “interlock exemption order” (S210 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) “RTA”).
A “mandatory interlock offence” is defined as a:
Second or subsequent offence (within 5 year period- S9(3)(a) RTA) for any other alcohol related offence, including novice range, special range, low range, middle range, high range, refusal or failure to submit to test or provide samples and drive under the influence of alcohol or drug, and
First offence of high range, refusal or failure to submit to test or provide samples.
Upon conviction, if the offender is sentenced to an interlock order (S211 RTA), they will be disqualified from holding a driver licence for 5 years unless they first hold an interlock licence; they will serve a mandatory licence disqualification period; and then be eligible to apply for an interlock licence.
The “minimum interlock period” commences upon the issue of that licence and finishes at the end of the period. The interlock period can be extended by the Court beyond the “minimum interlock period”. If the offender fails to complete the interlock period they remain disqualified for the five (5) years.
An “interlock exemption order” may be made (S212RTA) by the Court if the offender has no access to a car in which to install the device (or is medically incapable of providing a sufficient breath sample). If so, the existing disqualification regime under S205 RTA applies.
How does the new total sanction period of “disqualification period” plus the “minimum interlock period” compare with the previous regime (S205RTA) of total disqualification periods, following conviction? Here are some examples:
Novice range , Special range , Low range- 2nd offence (note: interlock order is not available for 1st offence) – Previously had automatic maximum disqualification of 12 months with a discretionary minimum 6 months. Now a maximum disqualification of 3 months and a minimum disqualification 1 month, plus a 12 months minimum interlock period.
Middle range 2nd offence (note: interlock order is not available for 1st offence) Previously had automatic maximum disqualification of 3 years with a discretionary minimum 12 months. Now a maximum disqualification of 9 months and a minimum disqualification 6 month, plus 24 months minimum interlock period.
High range First offence Previously had automatic maximum disqualification of 3 years with a discretionary minimum 12 months. Now a maximum disqualification of 9 months and a minimum disqualification 6 month, plus 24 months minimum interlock period.
High range 2nd offence Previously had automatic maximum disqualification of 5 years with a discretionary minimum 2 years. Now a maximum disqualification of 12 months and a minimum disqualification 9 months, plus a 48 months minimum interlock period.
In summary, in the Middle and High range offences, the maximum sanction periods (“disqualification period” plus the “minimum interlock period”) tend to track but are not worse or are better than the previous automatic maximum disqualification periods (subject to Court discretion). However, offenders are back on the road after a comparatively short disqualification period much sooner, in some cases by years, if they comply with the orders. For the Novice, Special, and Low Range offence, offenders have marginally longer maximum sanction periods, but are back on the road in 1 to 3 months. All total sanction periods of mandatory interlock offences tend to track the previous automatic maximum disqualification periods.
“Habitual traffic offenders” are not eligible. Two (2) other separate “major” or “prescribed speeding” offences plus the current one within 5 years can make you liable to a declaration of “habitual”, even if you were not convicted of one or more of them. This will tend to exclude more extreme cases of drink driving and curiously more trivial cases where, before, no conviction was recorded.
Novice range , Special range , Low range and Middle Range first offenders are excluded.
S10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure)Act is not affected.
Pre-existing disqualifications or suspensions must be served before an offender can apply for an interlock licence.
The interlock program is a user pays program. Roads and Maritime can assist financially in certain cases. The costs for a standard service are estimated at about $2,200 per annum.
There must be a zero blood alcohol concentration present whilst driving on an interlock device.
The Mandatory Interlock Program makes punishment for a crime at the longer end of the scale, starting with the up-front mandatory five (5) year disqualification period (which can be reduced with good behaviour) plus any other disqualification periods. The total sanction periods under mandatory interlock tend to track the previous automatic maximum disqualification periods, rather than the discretionary minimums.
So the way mandatory interlock works is to lock the drink driver into reform over a potentially longer period of time if they fail or refuse to reform.
So in this way the interlock program is also a drinker lock! And this drinker lock is expected to reduce drink driving offences by about 500 a year and make roads a lot safer. This is a noble objective.
Jonathan de Vere Tyndall
Updated 13 April 2015, originally published in the Quirindi Advocate 10/9/2003, Border News 29/9/2003, North West Magazine 29/9/2003, North Coast Town and Country Magazine 10/2003
Editors note: The articles published contain comment only and not legal advice, for which you should retain a solicitor. No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of the contents.