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Do you know about the Alcohol Interlock Program in NSW?

Regaining Your Freedom: Navigating the Alcohol Interlock Program in NS

Navigating the legal aspects of a drink driving matter can be quite overwhelming, particularly since the court can impose a range of fines and penalties that can not only hamper your employment prospects, but even limit your ability to travel internationally as well as suddenly having a criminal record. With the stakes so high, it is imperative to engage the expertise of Repute Law’s Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers, who possess unrivalled knowledge and experience in handling drink driving cases.

One of the penalties that can be imposed upon you with regards to certain drink driving matters, is being made to have an Alcohol Interlock device installed on your vehicle.

In this blog, we will simplify the complexities surrounding the Alcohol Interlock Program and discuss the importance of seeking professional legal advice.

What is the Alcohol Interlock Program in NSW

According to NSW laws, drivers who are found guilty of mid-range, high-range, repeat, or other severe drink driving offences must have an alcohol interlock device installed in their designated vehicle for a specific duration, corresponding to the type of drink driving offence they have been convicted of.

The purpose of the alcohol interlock device is to ensure the registered vehicle records a blood alcohol level of zero whenever the individual turns the ignition. The results are documented if the reading is above zero, and authorities can access this information. You may face additional charges if found to be over the legal limit. It is against the law to drive any other vehicle during the period that the interlock order is in place.

How an interlock device works

According to Transport for NSW, Alcohol Interlock Program, nsw.gov.au, accessed as recently as 02 February 2024, ‘Interlock devices are electronic breath-testing devices which link to the ignition system of cars, motorcycles and heavy vehicles.

Before you can drive a vehicle, you will have to complete a breath test on the interlock. If the device detects that you have alcohol in your body, the vehicle will not start. Random breath tests must also be passed during a journey. The interlock has a camera, which takes a photo of you providing the breath sample.’

Alcohol Interlock Program and When it Applies

The Alcohol Interlock Program in NSW applies only if you are convicted of mandatory interlock offence (see table below) and the court has thereby ordered you to participate in the Alcohol Interlock Program or granted you an interlock exemption order.

Under the Alcohol Interlock Program in NSW , drivers who have committed serious drink-driving offences are required to install an alcohol interlock device in their vehicle. This apparatus measures the driver’s breath alcohol concentration (BAC) and prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected above a predetermined limit.

4 drink driving offences, ranging from novice range drink driving offences (such as a learner driver’s) to high range drink driving offences. Below is a table that outlines possible disqualification and interlock periods that apply:

View disqualification and interlock periods that apply
Mandatory interlock offence Disqualification period Interlock period Disqualification period (if exemption order is made) Applies to offences committed or or after
Low, novice or special range PCA – second or subsequent offence Minimum: 1 month
Maximum: 3 months
12 months Automatic: 12 months
(Min: 6 months)
1 Feb 2015
Mid range PCA – first offence Minimum: 3 months
Maximum: 6 months
12 months Automatic: 12 months
(Min: 6 months)
3 Dec 2018
Mid range PCA – second or subsequent offence Minimum: 6 months
Maximum: 9 months
24 months Automatic: 3 years
(Min: 12 months)
1 Feb 2015
High range PCA – first offence Minimum: 6 months
Maximum: 9 months
24 months Automatic: 3 years
(Min: 12 months)
1 Feb 2015
High range PCA – second or subsequent offence Minimum: 9 months
Maximum: 12 months
48 months Automatic: 5 years
(Min: 2 years)
1 Feb 2015
Drive under the influence of alcohol – first offence Minimum: 6 months
Maximum: 9 months
24 months Automatic: 3 years
(Min: 12 months)
3 Dec 2018
Drive under the influence of alcohol – second or subsequent offence Minimum: 9 months
Maximum: 12 months
48 months Automatic: 5 years
(Min. 2 years)
3 Dec 2018
Refuse to provide a sample – first offence Minimum: 6 months
Maximum: 9 months
24 months Automatic: 3 years
(Min: 12 months)
1 Feb 2015
Refuse to provide a sample – second or subsequent offence Minimum: 9 months
Maximum: 12 months
48 months Automatic: 5 years
(Min: 2 years)
1 Feb 2015
Combined offence – low, special or novice range PCA with prescribed illicit drug presence Minimum: 1 month
Maximum: 3 months
12 months Automatic: 12 months
(Min: 6 months)
28 June 2021
Combined offence – mid range PCA with prescribed illicit drug presence – first offence Minimum: 3 month
Maximum: 6 months
12 months Automatic: 12 months
(Min: 6 months)
28 June 2021
Combined offence – mid range PCA with prescribed illicit drug presence – second or subsequent offence Minimum: 6 month
Maximum: 9 months
24 months Automatic: 3 years
(Min: 12 months)
28 June 2021
Combined offence – high range PCA with prescribed illicit drug presence – first offence Minimum: 6 month
Maximum: 9 months
24 months Automatic: 3 years
(Min: 12 months)
28 June 2021
Combined offence – high range PCA with prescribed illicit drug presence – second or subsequent offence Minimum: 9 month
Maximum: 12 months
48 months Automatic: 5 years
(Min: 2 years)
28 June 2021

 

Section 52 of the Crimes Act 1900 also sets out offences that are subject to an interlock order:

  1. Being under the influence of alcohol and driving dangerously causing serious injury to a person.
  2. Having a BAC of more than 0.15, driving dangerously causing serious injury to a person and;
  3. Having a BAV of more than 0.15, driving dangerously causing death.

Refusing to provide a breath, saliva and or blood specimen when requested will also be subject to an order, along with refusing to do a sobriety test and are driving with a level of alcohol that is in excess of the required BAC for the licence held and have been convicted of the same thing within the last 5 years.

Additionally, adherence to the Alcohol Interlock Program requirements is essential to ensure accountability and safety. Non-compliance can result in severe repercussions, such as extended interlock periods or licence disqualification. Understanding the program’s guidelines.

Cost of installing the interlock device and breaching the order

It is important to note that you will bear all costs associated with the interlock if an order is made against you. However, if you hold a concession card or are facing financial hardship you may be entitled to some form of discount.

The interlock must be installed by a qualified installer at the end of the licence disqualification period and must be in place for the period specified in the order. The interlock will require you to blow into the device and record a zero BAC reading prior to the vehicle starting.

If you breach the order you could be subject to further drink driving charges, court dates and most importantly convictions and penalties.

Interlock exemption order

According to Transport for NSW, Alcohol Interlock Program, nsw.gov.au, accessed as recently as 02 February 2024, ‘if you are convicted of a drink driving offence, rather than participate in the Alcohol Interlock Program, you can ask the court for an interlock exemption order.

The court may give you the exemption if you can prove that:

  • you don’t have access to a vehicle to install the device, or
  • you have a medical condition which stops you from using the device.

If the court gives you an interlock exemption order:

  • your licence will be cancelled and you’ll be disqualified from driving
  • you’ll need to complete the Sober Driver Program (at your own expense) during your disqualification period
  • you’ll need to complete the disqualification period before you can apply for a new unrestricted driver licence.’

Section 212 (3) of the Road Transport Act 2013 also allows the court the make an interlock exemption order (for mandatory offences) if the accused can prove the following:

  • They do not have access to a vehicle in order to install the device.
  • The accused has a medical condition which has been diagnosed by a Dr which will stop them from being able to provide a breathe sample which will pass the interlock and the interlock cannot be modified to in order for the accused to use it.

Furthermore, s212(5) states that financial or employment grounds is not enough to argue for an exemption if applying for the above.

Legal Assistance

Repute Law allocates a dedicated Senior Criminal Defence Lawyer and Case Concierge to your case to ensure you receive exceptional legal assistance.

Our team will guide you through the entire legal process from providing advice on how to defend your drink driving charge (such as making a section 10 application or an application for a Conditional Release Order non-conviction), to applying for an interlock licence and how to have an interlock device installed on your vehicle. At Repute Law we pride ourselves on ensuring that you are prepared and Court Ready to face to defend your drink driving charge. This unique service encompasses everything you need to prepare you for your day in court, such as guidance on proper courtroom etiquette. I

With our extensive experience and comprehensive understanding of NSW criminal law, we are well-equipped to handle your case with utmost professionalism and expertise.

Conclusion

Whilst an interlock order can seem stressful and overwhelming, understanding the potential defences available to you is crucial if you have been charged with a drink-driving offence. Repute Law, one of Australia’s leading criminal law firms, can provide expert legal advice tailored to your specific case. Our team of Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers, along with qualified Case Concierges who are also lawyers, possess extensive experience in defending clients charged with alcohol-related offences.

When challenging the charges, it is essential to thoroughly examine the evidence against you. In prior cases, the Court has highlighted the importance of scrutinising the accuracy and reliability of the breath analysis device used. Our experienced lawyers at Repute Law will meticulously review the evidence, ensuring that all potential defences are explored to achieve the best outcome for you.

By engaging Repute Law at the earliest opportunity, our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers can promptly gather evidence, interview witnesses and prepare the best possible defence. Our team will negotiate with the police, aiming to minimise reputational loss by seeking to have the charges reduced or even dismissed without going to court. Early representation could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

Don’t face the legal system alone. Contact Repute Law today to discuss your situation and receive expert guidance. Regaining your freedom is possible with the right legal support.

**Note: The blog has been written based on the information provided and does not include direct quotes or paraphrasing from the reference article. The link to the reference article was used for general information and understanding of the topic.**

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