On 10 September 2021, the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (“Act”), which governs the penalties imposed for drink driving offences, was amended to include harsher penalties aimed at improving the safety of those who use our roads.
The two major changes are:
1. Everyone convicted of a drink driving offence (regardless of their reading) is required to complete an education course; and
2. The Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program has been strengthened and expanded to apply to more offenders.
Drink driving contributes to over 20% of all lives lost on the road, and last year we saw increases in both casualties and injuries – with 62 people having lost their life, and a further 783 injured with serious injuries. The vast majority of these crashes occurred when the driver had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.10 or higher.
Mandatory Education Course
Prior to the amendments many people charged with drink driving offences would complete drink-driving awareness courses such as the Queensland Traffic Offender’s Program (QTOP) and the Traffic Offender Intervention Program (TOIP). However, participation in these programs, which show that they reduce the risk of reoffending, was previously voluntary.
The amendments now mean that everyone convicted of a drink driving offence is required to complete an intervention course prior getting their licence reinstated by the Department of Transport.
For first time offenders, they are required to complete an online early intervention course called “Plan.Drive.Survive. – Foundations”.
For repeat drink driving offenders, they will be required to complete a face-to-face, multi-session course called “Plan.Drive.Survive. – Comprehensive”, on top of the condition to complete the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Period.
Alcohol Ignition Lock Program
The legislation amendments to the Alcohol Ignition Lock Program mean that people convicted of the following offences will now need to install an interlock device on their car prior to having the licence reinstated:
1. High range drink driving (0.15% BAC and above);
2. Medium range drink driving (0.10 – 0.149% BAC);
3. Failure to provide a specimen of breath or blood for analysis;
4. Dangerous driving whilst adversely affected by alcohol;
5. Failing to comply with an interlock condition, driving a vehicle without an interlock installed, and non-compliance with an interlock order ((pursuant to s 78(3)(j), 91W and 91X of the Act); and
6. Where a person has been convicted of 2 or more drink driving offences, of any nature, within a 5 year period.
Currently there are two different interlock programs with different requirements. The first is the ‘time-based interlock program’ which is for people who’s licence disqualification ends prior to 9 September 2021. They are required to be on the interlock program for 12-months, otherwise they are unable to apply for their licence for a period of 2-years.
The ‘performance-based interlock program’ will apply to every person convicted of the above offence where their licence disqualification period ends after 9 September 2021, and runs for a period of 12-months.
The performance-based program is split into two-parts, consisting of the 8-month ‘learning period’ and the 4-month ‘performance period’. During the ‘performance period’ the interlock use is monitored, and the data is sent to the Department of Transport. It requires the user to return ‘no alcohol’ readings, and that all required interlock services have been completed, otherwise the interlock 4-month performance period will restart.
There are still exemptions which one can apply for if they are required to complete an interlock program, however they must meet the strict eligibility criteria, which includes:
- Living on an island or in a remote location;
- You have a medical condition which stops you from providing enough breath to operate an interlock; or
- You or your family member will experience severe hardship if you are not granted an exemption.
Despite these recent amendments, people charged with medium range drink driving or below can still apply for a section 87 ‘restricted work licence’. However, they are required to install the interlock device in that car, even if the car is a work vehicle.
There’s a lot involved in obtaining a work licence. The criteria to be met is strict, and it is important that proper representation is obtained to help improve the chances of the application being granted, as your livelihood may be dependent on it.
Interestingly, these recent amendments have not changed the laws surrounding the offence of ‘driving whilst a relevant drug is present in your saliva’, which is more commonly known as drug driving. Those convicted of a drug driving offence are not required to complete the mandatory education course or install an interlock device.
Talk to a professional
There’s so much more involved with drug and drink driving matters. If you’ve recently faced a drug or drink driving charge and require representation or a work licence, you’ll greatly benefit from engaging a professional Traffic Lawyer.
Speak to our Traffic Offences team today to discover more. Phone 07 3009 6555 or email email@example.com, we’re always ready to talk about ways we can help.