NSW Drivers convicted of serious or repeat drink driving
offences will face new penalties and will be required to fix
alcohol Interlock devices to their vehicles. For offences committed
on or after 1 February 2015, drivers convicted of driving with a
high range prescribed concentration of alcohol ("PCA")
and second and subsequent Novice, Special, Low and Mid Range PCA
offences will face a minimum licence disqualification period and a
minimum 12 month participation in the Interlock program.
The interlock has been available for many years and is an
electronic breath testing device which attaches to a motor
vehicle's ignition which prevents the vehicle being operated
unless the driver is detected as having a zero blood alcohol
reading. According to Roads and Maritime Services approximately
6,000 convicted drink drivers will be affected by the program. If
convicted drivers fail to participate in the program a
disqualification period of at least 5 years will apply from the
date of conviction.
Under the new laws, a driver convicted of their first high range
prescribed concentration of alcohol offence will be subject to a
minimum disqualification period of 6 months and a minimum Interlock
period of 24 months. Previously a minimum disqualification period
of 12 months and an automatic disqualification of 3 years would
apply to such an offence. However, drivers convicted of a second
high range PCA offence within the last 5 years will be subject to a
minimum disqualification period of 9 months and a minimum Interlock
period of 48 months. Previously a minimum disqualification period
of 2 years and an automatic period of 5 years would apply to such
There are only limited exemptions to Interlock orders as set
under section 212 (3) of the Road Transport Act 2013. These include
the person not having access to a vehicle to which to install an
interlock device. The exemption does not apply only because the
person cannot afford the costs of installing an improved interlock
device or would be prevented from driving a vehicle in his or her
employment an interlock exemption order is made.
This will have significant consequences for persons convicted of
high range PCA or other offences where they are required to drive
various vehicles during the course of their employment or where
their employer does not agree to (or cannot fit) an interlock
device to a company vehicle. An exemption is also available where a
person has a medical condition that prevents the providing of a
sufficient breath sample to operate the interlock device and it is
not reasonable practicable for the interlock device to be modified
to enable the operation of the device. The estimated cost of the
Interlock,is $2,200 per year. These costs are met by the driver,
with some funding available where the driver cannot afford
A new requirement has been introduced under section 205 of the
Act is for the offender to complete a drink driver rehabilitation
program before they apply for their licence or return to driving.
Learner drivers are also not exempt from the program and as soon as
they progress to a provisional licence the interlock condition and
participation in the program will apply.
It is more important than ever for drivers charged with drink
driving offences to seek legal advice before appearing in Court.
Exemption applications must be made at the time that the driver is
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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