INTERLOCK: Crocker’s Auto Electrical Service installs interlock devices.
DRINK-DRIVERS convicted of high-range or repeat offences are having to pay thousands of dollars to have alcohol interlock devices fitted to their vehicles.But it is hoped the impost will save lives and give offenders the chance to get back on the road sooner – legally and sober.Legislation making interlocks mandatory came into effect in NSW on February 1.An interlock is a breath-testing device connected to a vehicle’s ignition.
If the interlock detects alcohol on the driver’s breath it prevents the vehicle starting.
A Riverina court is now regularly imposing interlocks on drivers who are convicted of high-range drink driving or repeated mid-range.The drivers must first serve a driving disqualification period before they can apply for an interlock licence.The minimum period for an interlock device is 12 months.Costs of installing and servicing interlocks are paid for by the driver and can be around $2200 a year.
Drivers who fail to meet interlock requirements can be banned from driving for an additional five years.
“It’s early days yet, but I think overall it’s a good piece of legislation to get people back on the road sooner and able to get on with their lives,” said Wagga criminal lawyer, David Barron.
“And it’s a good prevention because every time they get in the car they are reminded (about drink-driving) because they have to blow in the machine.
“Their passengers are also reminded, as well.
“It has a real deterrence effect.”
Mr Barron said interlock was not a cheap option, but points to financial assistance that can be given to people short on cash.
According to the Centre for Road Safety, interlock service providers offer a concession rate of 35 per cent off the standard cost of installing, leasing, servicing and removing interlocks for people who have afull rate pensioner concession card, a health care card or a Department of Veterans Affairs gold card.
A number of safeguards are in place to stop people gettingaround their interlocks.For example, the device takes a photo of a person blowing into the device and requires drivers to pull over and provide samples throughout a journey.
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