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Launch of alcohol interlock program to tackle drink driving

By 16 June 2014 22

From tomorrow, drivers convicted of certain drink driving offences will be subject to a mandatory interlock condition after serving a period of driver licence disqualification, Attorney General, Simon Corbell said today at the launch of the ACT’s alcohol interlock program.

An alcohol interlock is an electronic breath testing device wired into the ignition of a vehicle that requires the driver to blow an alcohol free breath sample into the device before the vehicle will start.

“This program is an important addition to the initiatives the ACT Government has in place to combat drink driving and improve road safety for our community,” Mr Corbell said.

The program will require high-risk drink drivers, including those who register a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more and certain repeat offenders, to participate in a mandatory interlock program.

Only when these drivers have served at least half their licence disqualification period, spent a minimum period driving with an interlock fitted, complied with any court ordered treatment, and demonstrated a period of clean driving, will they be able to have the interlock condition removed from their licence.

“An important element of the mandatory program is the requirement for participants to be assessed to determine what treatment or programs might assist them to separate drinking and driving.

“It is important that we have programs directed at supporting more enduring changes to the behaviour of more high-risk drink driving offenders.”

Other drink driving offenders, such as low-range and first offenders, will be able to elect to participate in a voluntary interlock program.

“This will be an option at any time during the person’s disqualification period, but they will be subject to a minimum period of six months on the program and also be required to demonstrate a period of clean driving before they can exit the interlock program.”

The interlock program will be subject to an evaluation.

(Simon Corbell Media Release)

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22 Responses to Launch of alcohol interlock program to tackle drink driving
#1
Dacquiri1:24 pm, 16 Jun 14

There is actually no sensible reason that this sort of device shouldn’t be provided as a standard feature (or at least an option) in all vehicles. Given the serious implications of drink-driving, I don’t think it is so much to ask that the vehicle’s engine be disabled until the driver blows under the limit. As they say: ‘We have the technology…’ and I hardly think it’s an affront to human rights — more of a guarantee of the rights of everyone on the road.

#2
dungfungus2:03 pm, 16 Jun 14

Unless this device operates like a “deadman’s pedal” in a train (has to be de-activated within a set elapsed time to avoid an automated emergency stop), what is there to stop a serial drink driver from activating the device while sober and then drinking while the vehicle is underway.
Most drunks I know equate drink/driving as just that (drinking while driving).
There is a better way and that is to have mandatory gaol sentences for anyone that is caught driving over the prescribed limit – no exceptions such as politicians and members of the judiciary.

#3
Ghettosmurf872:31 pm, 16 Jun 14

I would tend to disagree on your thought process that most drunks equate “Drink Driving” with “drinking while driving”. I have seen no evidence of that assumption at all. Everyone I know understands that drink driving means driving while drunk.

I would say (and correct me if there are stats to the contrary) that most people caught “drink driving” do not have open drinks in their vehicle from which they have been drinking while driving. They have instead driven somewhere, parked their car, gotten drunk and then jumped back in their car to either transport themselves home or to their next venue for drinking. It is during that final transit that they are caught.

Your worry about how long the activation lasts is certainly pertinent, though I would assume it lasts until the car is turned off. So it won’t catch the minority of drink drivers who soberly decide that they’d like to drink a can now that they’re driving, but it will stop anyone who’s already had a drink from starting their vehicle.

I guess if they were really determined they could start the car while sober, drive to the pub, leave the car idling for a few hours while they get drunk, and then get back in it and drive home. But do we really think this is likely to occur a great deal?

If the interlock program makes it genuinely difficult for a person to drive while under the influence than that can only be a good thing, can’t it?

dungfungus said :

Unless this device operates like a “deadman’s pedal” in a train (has to be de-activated within a set elapsed time to avoid an automated emergency stop), what is there to stop a serial drink driver from activating the device while sober and then drinking while the vehicle is underway.
Most drunks I know equate drink/driving as just that (drinking while driving).
There is a better way and that is to have mandatory gaol sentences for anyone that is caught driving over the prescribed limit – no exceptions such as politicians and members of the judiciary.

#4
Emily Morris2:51 pm, 16 Jun 14

I agree that this should be a standard feature on cars. I would be interested to know how many incidents would be prevented if someone was made aware of how far they were over the limit before driving a car… This would just make it that bit harder for people to play dumb on the amount they’ve consumed.

#5
dungfungus3:30 pm, 16 Jun 14

Ghettosmurf87 said :

I would tend to disagree on your thought process that most drunks equate “Drink Driving” with “drinking while driving”. I have seen no evidence of that assumption at all. Everyone I know understands that drink driving means driving while drunk.

I would say (and correct me if there are stats to the contrary) that most people caught “drink driving” do not have open drinks in their vehicle from which they have been drinking while driving. They have instead driven somewhere, parked their car, gotten drunk and then jumped back in their car to either transport themselves home or to their next venue for drinking. It is during that final transit that they are caught.

Your worry about how long the activation lasts is certainly pertinent, though I would assume it lasts until the car is turned off. So it won’t catch the minority of drink drivers who soberly decide that they’d like to drink a can now that they’re driving, but it will stop anyone who’s already had a drink from starting their vehicle.

I guess if they were really determined they could start the car while sober, drive to the pub, leave the car idling for a few hours while they get drunk, and then get back in it and drive home. But do we really think this is likely to occur a great deal?

If the interlock program makes it genuinely difficult for a person to drive while under the influence than that can only be a good thing, can’t it?

dungfungus said :

Unless this device operates like a “deadman’s pedal” in a train (has to be de-activated within a set elapsed time to avoid an automated emergency stop), what is there to stop a serial drink driver from activating the device while sober and then drinking while the vehicle is underway.
Most drunks I know equate drink/driving as just that (drinking while driving).
There is a better way and that is to have mandatory gaol sentences for anyone that is caught driving over the prescribed limit – no exceptions such as politicians and members of the judiciary.

Well, you have your opinion but I think I may know a lot more drunks (I mean alcoholics) than you do and with all alcoholics I have known, they all drink while they are driving.
And what is to stop a sober person (a friend of the drunk) using the device to start the vehicle?
This interlock programme is another typical, expensive, feel-good nanny response to a problem that needs custodial sentences to keep drunks off the road.

#6
bikhet3:31 pm, 16 Jun 14

A difficulty with the proposal to have interlocks fitted to all vehicles is that the law currently allows a person with a full license to legally drive with a BAC of less than 0.05.

It’s relatively easy to make an interlock that can determine the difference between a BAC of zero and a BAC of greater than zero. It’s more difficult to make an interlock that can accurately determine the difference between 0.04 and 0.06, say, and maintain that accuracy over the life of the interlock.

If the person was denied use of their vehicle when under the limit, they could make a case for suing either the maker of the car an/or the interlock.

If they were over the limit and were allowed to drive the vehicle they could try to claim in court that they were in fact under the limit – the interlock allowed them to drive after all – and that their apparently being over the limit was due to the testing equipment being wrong.

I may have the details wrong on the current BAC limits, but the principle still applies.

Having said all that, I’m not a supporter of drunk driving. I like the car-crusher solution.

#7
Pork Hunt4:34 pm, 16 Jun 14

How does the system determine from where the sample of breath comes? Can one manipulate the device by using compressed air or a balloon that one has prepared earlier?

#8
Rawhide Kid Part35:52 pm, 16 Jun 14

bikhet said :

I’m not a supporter of drunk driving. I like the car-crusher solution.

+1000000000000000

#9
milkman6:21 pm, 16 Jun 14

bikhet said :

I like the car-crusher solution.

Why destroy a useful and saleable item? Sell it, and use the proceeds to support programs for victims of crime.

#10
wildturkeycanoe6:49 pm, 16 Jun 14

Pork Hunt said :

How does the system determine from where the sample of breath comes? Can one manipulate the device by using compressed air or a balloon that one has prepared earlier?

I was thinking the exact same thing, it isn’t rocket science. If they aren’t smart enough to figure that out, they will probably borrow or steal a car that doesn’t have the technology installed. On older vehicles, it wouldn’t be very difficult to bypass the ignition system either, just a piece of wire in the right spots and away you go.

#11
dungfungus7:46 pm, 16 Jun 14

milkman said :

bikhet said :

I like the car-crusher solution.

Why destroy a useful and saleable item? Sell it, and use the proceeds to support programs for victims of crime.

I thought the OP meant car crushing with the drunk driver still in it. Damn!

#12
dungfungus7:49 pm, 16 Jun 14

Pork Hunt said :

How does the system determine from where the sample of breath comes? Can one manipulate the device by using compressed air or a balloon that one has prepared earlier?

It was widely reported a few years ago that when the cars fitted with these devices were left for service at a garage the owner told the mechanics that they should blow compressed air into the mouthpice so they could service the car etc.
It’s a bit like that old maxim “locks only keep out honest people”.

#13
bikhet7:54 pm, 16 Jun 14

milkman said :

Why destroy a useful and saleable item? Sell it, and use the proceeds to support programs for victims of crime.

OK, I’ll give you that, though there might be some salutary effects from having the perpetrator watch the crushing.

#14
milkman7:13 am, 17 Jun 14

bikhet said :

milkman said :

Why destroy a useful and saleable item? Sell it, and use the proceeds to support programs for victims of crime.

OK, I’ll give you that, though there might be some salutary effects from having the perpetrator watch the crushing.

Only a small minority of people who would have their car crushed are enthuiasts. Most are young idiots driving either a parent’s car or their own POS.

I wonder what would happen if the government crushed a car that was under secured finance?

#15
rosscoact4:44 am, 18 Jun 14

Determined criminals will find a way to circumvent preventative devices but that doesn’t mean we should stop using preventative devices. Otherwise wouldn’t everyone leave their houses unlocked?

#16
dungfungus8:07 am, 18 Jun 14

milkman said :

bikhet said :

milkman said :

Why destroy a useful and saleable item? Sell it, and use the proceeds to support programs for victims of crime.

OK, I’ll give you that, though there might be some salutary effects from having the perpetrator watch the crushing.

Only a small minority of people who would have their car crushed are enthuiasts. Most are young idiots driving either a parent’s car or their own POS.

I wonder what would happen if the government crushed a car that was under secured finance?

They should check the REVS first. If they don’t they could be in strife.

#17
dungfungus8:09 am, 18 Jun 14

rosscoact said :

Determined criminals will find a way to circumvent preventative devices but that doesn’t mean we should stop using preventative devices. Otherwise wouldn’t everyone leave their houses unlocked?

Fifty years ago people did leave their homes (and cars) unlocked.
Pleasantville is indeed a Hollywood fantasy.

#18
rosscoact8:44 am, 18 Jun 14

dungfungus said :

rosscoact said :

Determined criminals will find a way to circumvent preventative devices but that doesn’t mean we should stop using preventative devices. Otherwise wouldn’t everyone leave their houses unlocked?

Fifty years ago people did leave their homes (and cars) unlocked.
Pleasantville is indeed a Hollywood fantasy.

Every year about this time the police walk around Cooma looking for cars parked with their keys in the ignition. They confiscate the keys and lock the car while leaving a note that says you’re stupid to do so (because some of the ski tourists are not very nice) and you can pick the keys up from the station.

We leave doors unlocked in our house now but our circumstances are such that we are a difficult target for villains.

#19
Felix the Cat9:08 am, 18 Jun 14

milkman said :

I wonder what would happen if the government crushed a car that was under secured finance?

Nothing will happen to the govt, they have done nothing wrong. It’s the driver or owner that has done wrong by driving when drunk. The owner will need to continue to make the payments or pay the car out, same as if they had a crash and wrote the car off (insurance is null & void if you are found to be DUI in an accident). If the owner had lent the vehicle to someone and it got confiscated because of DUI then that’s up to him/her to take it up with the driver.

There was an incident a few months back where a rental car was confiscated because the driver was caught doing burnouts but the rental company negotiated wth the police and the vehicle was returned to them.

#20
Henry821:29 pm, 18 Jun 14

Pork Hunt said :

How does the system determine from where the sample of breath comes? Can one manipulate the device by using compressed air or a balloon that one has prepared earlier?

My understanding is that you need to hum while blowing.

#21
rhino1:59 pm, 18 Jun 14

Surely it’d be trivial to bypass with a balloon or compressed air, or getting someone else to blow into it, or using another car. If it is trivial to bypass, all it’s doing is costing money for almost no benefit.

I haven’t seen one of these installed, but unless they’re destroying your dash and welding in pieces of metal, it’d be pretty easy to bypass surely.

As for the leaving it running idea, your car has “accessories” and “on” modes. Once you go to “on” without starting the engine, the immobiliser and steering lock are disabled, and therefore this system would be also. You could leave your car in the “on” position overnight without getting a flat battery and without the engine running. You then just hop in and crank the starter by turning the key a little further and off you go.

If you also look at the demographics of people doing this, they generally earn less money. People who are well off can afford to get a taxi home from the pub. These people generally drive older cars worth very little and often see them as almost disposable unless they are enthusiasts and their hobby is working on that car. Therefore there are a lot of rubbish cars worth about as much as this device that would be being fitted with it and using another car owned by someone else in this demographic who they are friends or relatives with would be quite easy as well. I’m sure the attitude would be “well Davo, I’m not drinking tonight because I’ve got the late shift tonight. I’ll take your car and you take mine….cheers Robbo!”.

#22
rhino2:02 pm, 18 Jun 14

If you truly want to cut drink driving significantly, free up the taxi market, allow more competition with much cheaper taxi licencing and halve the cost of getting a taxi overnight. You’d see a significant decrease in those drink driving.

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