Alcohol interlocks are coming….

By Anna Sandiford 17/08/2012

I read today in my.lawsociety (NZ Law Society publication) that ordering the fitting of alcohol interlocks to vehicles owned by people convicted of drink driving is going to be an option available to the NZ courts as of 10 September this year. 

An alcohol interlock operates in a similar manner to a breathalyser in that it requires the driver to blow a sample of breath into it, which is then analysed by the device to determine the breath alcohol level.  If the breath alcohol level is in excess of a pre-programmed level, the ignition system of the vehicle remains disabled and the driver cannot drive the vehicle. 

Data is collected from the interlock device and downloaded at regular intervals for examination by a court-approved organisation.  Another person can drive a car fitted with an interlock but their breath alcohol reading will be recorded in the interlock’s computer. I see several issues here, as I am sure will other people, which I shall not discuss in a public forum but that I expect to pan out in the near future.

The my.lawsociety article (which is behind a login, hence no link) indicates as follows:

From 10 September 2012, courts will be able to impose an alcohol interlock disqualification on repeat drink drive offenders and first time offenders convicted of driving with blood alcohol levels double the current adult limit. [this is 80 mg alc/100 ml blood or 400 ug alc/L breath]

Interlocks in New Zealand will be effectively set for a zero limit.

Following a mandatory three month disqualification from driving, offenders given an interlock disqualification will be able to apply for an alcohol interlock licence, which will restrict them to driving a vehicle with an interlock devide fitted. Offenders will bear the cost of fitting and monitoring the interlocks.

A “zero alcohol” licence sanction will also be available from 10 September. If imposed, this will require drivers to maintain a zero alcohol limit for a fixed period of three years.

This presumably ties in with the arrival of the specialist Drug and Alcohol Courts that are being trialled in the Auckland region at about the same time this new power is implemented.

I will be very interested to see how this combined approach impacts on NZ’s attitude to drink driving which is, in my anecdotal and observational experience, more socially acceptable than overseas.

0 Responses to “Alcohol interlocks are coming….”

  • Unfortunately the prohibitively high cost of interlock installation means this option will only be available to a very select few…