All drink-drivers will be ordered to fit interlock devices to their cars at their own cost under a radical reform of Victoria's road laws. The crackdown will catch about 17,000 motorists a year who blow .05 or over.
The interlocks prevent a car engine from starting if the driver has been drinking. Police Minister Peter Ryan said the tough reform followed a government road-safety survey, published in the Herald Sun, in which 83 per cent of respondents favoured an increase in the use of interlocks.
The result convinced the State Government it had overwhelming public support to significantly toughen drink-driving laws. "The user-pays system ensures there's a powerful financial deterrent to drink-driving," Mr Ryan said.
He said drink-driving caused 25 to 30 per cent of deaths on the state's roads. "This will also bring about a strong cultural change and it will save lives," Mr Ryan told Fairfax Radio today.
"People get killed on our roads not because of accidents - it happens because people make poor choices and the issue here is do not drink and drive." The law will apply to all drink-drivers, unless they are able to convince a court "exceptional circumstances" exist in their case.
Interlocks protect not only the community and would-be drink-drivers, but the drink-drivers from themselves. Work has already started on drafting the legislation and the Government will enact it as soon as possible.
"Some may argue these are harsh penalties for drink-drivers," Mr Ryan said. "But people should remember interlocks aim to stop more families from suffering the pain of losing loved ones. Interlocks protect not only the community and would-be drink-drivers, but the drink-drivers from themselves."
Currently, only repeat offenders, drivers who blow more than .15, and those aged under 26 who blow .07 or more have interlocks fitted. The duration ranges from six months to four years depending on the blood alcohol reading and on whether the driver is a repeat offender.
Using an interlock for six months costs about $1049, and for four years, $6509. Failed attempts to drive a car with an interlock device fitted to it are recorded.
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