From 1 February 2015
Stricter requirements on NSW drivers convicted of serious and repeat drink driving offences will start on 1 February 2015. New laws will include a requirement for offenders to fit alcohol interlock devices to their vehicles.
From 1 February 2015, courts will be able to order offenders convicted of high range, repeat and other serious drink driving offences to complete:
A minimum licence disqualification period, and A minimum 12 month participation in the interlock program. Drink driving is a high risk problem.The new program is designed to provide a physical barrier between drinking and driving to reduce this road safety risk.
Transport for NSW Centre for Road Safety published statistics on their website showing Drink driving is a factor in about one in every five crashes in NSW where someone loses their life. Of the drink drivers who were killed in the five-year period from 2008 to 2012, 89 per cent were men and 66 per cent were under the age of 40.
The effects of alcohol are wide ranging and impossible to avoid. After a big night out you may still have alcohol in your system for much of the next day. Alcohol is a depressant and:
- Slows your brain so that you can’t respond to situations, make decisions or react quickly
- Reduces your ability to judge how fast you are moving or your distance from other cars, people or objects
- Gives you a false sense of confidence – you may take greater risks, thinking that your driving is better than it really is
- Makes it harder to do more than one thing at a time – while you concentrate on steering, you could miss seeing traffic lights, cars entering from side streets or pedestrians
- Affects your sense of balance – a big risk if you ride a motorcycle
- Makes you drowsy – you could fall asleep at the wheel
For further information continue to the FAQ section.
Program Violation Chart for Alcohol Interlocks NSW
|Type of Violation||Violation Limit||Violation Trigger Point|
|Initial Test violation||6||0.020 - .049 BAC on attempted start|
|Initial Test violation||3||0.050 or greater on attempted start|
|Rolling Re-Test Violation||1||0.020 BAC or greater on rolling re-test|
|Skipped Rolling Retest||1||Failing to provide test within 10 minutes|
|Circumvention||1||Starting or by-passing device without taking a test|
|Battery Disconnection||1||Disconnecting the battery for 20 minutes or more|
|Combination||6||Combination of initial test violations to a total of 6|
*Once violation limits have been reached the unit will display 7 day count down. You must return for an unscheduled service within the 7 day period or the device will permanently lock and you will require an unlock code. A maximum of 3 unlock codes can be issued per service period. The vehicle will need to be towed after that.
You will need to contact head office for issue of the unlock code.
Random RE-Test Schedule for Alcohol Interlocks NSW
- You will be required to provide a breath sample in the first 3 to 15 minutes of the vehicle starting
- you will be required to provide subsequent samples at random times ranging from 15 to 60 minutes after the first Re-test
- You are required to provide a breath sample every time the device requests a test, even if you have reached your destination and you turn the vehicle off.
Frequently asked questions about Alcohol Interlocks NSW
Q: Why have interlock devices been introduced?
Interlock devices prevent people from drink driving. Interlock devices also give drivers an opportunity to learn to avoid driving after they have been drinking, and to make this an ongoing habit.
Q: What happens if I can’t start the car in the morning?
If you can’t start the car in the morning it may be due to the amount of alcohol in your body from the previous night.
If your car won’t start the next morning after you have been drinking the previous night it is recommended that wait for a few hours before trying again to blow into the device.
Q: What happens if I do not renew my interlock driver licence, even one day before the expiry date?
If you do not renew your licence before it expires (even one day before) the law requires that you cease to participate in the program and RMS will automatically reimpose the balance of the full disqualification period.
Q: Can interlock driver licence holders drive another person’s car?
The holder of an interlock driver licence can only drive another car if the car is fitted with a properly functioning and labelled approved interlock device.
Q: What happens when other people drive my car?
Anyone using a car fitted with an interlock device will be subject to all the requirements of the interlock device. The installer will provide training to you and to other regular users of the car when the interlock device is installed.
It is very important that you ensure that any other driver is aware of the condition of the program, the impact that violations will have on your licence and that they agree to abide by the conditions before they use the car.
Any misuse of the interlock device will be recorded and may result in temporary or permanent lockout. You are responsible for all costs incurred as a result of such actions and in the absence of proof to the contrary, you will be responsible for all violations.
Q: What happens if the interlock driver licence holder is caught drink driving or driving a car not fitted with an interlock device?
Drink driving is enforced by NSW Police through mobile and stationary random breath testing. In the event that an interlock driver licence holder fails a random breath test they will be charged with drink driving and face court.
Similarly, if the interlock driver licence holder is caught driving a car not fitted with an interlock device he or she will be charged with not complying with the conditions of their licence and required to attend court.
The penalties for interlock driver licence holders detected driving a car without an interlock device are substantial. When drivers are detected they face a fine and their licence may be cancelled.
Q: What happens if I have the interlock device installed or removed by a person who is not an approved interlock installer?
Only interlock devices approved by RMS can be installed into participants’ cars. Interlock devices must be installed and removed by an RMS approved interlock installer. It is an offence for a person who is not an RMSapproved interlock installer to install or remove the interlock device from your car. The maximum penaltyfor this offence is $2200.
Q: What happens if the tamper sticker on the interlock device is removed or defaced?
It is an offence for anyone other than an RMS approved interlock installer or service provider to attach or remove from an interlock device the tamper sticker. This label can only be removed when the interlock driver licence holder has completed the program and the interlock device is removed.
If the label becomes illegible for any reason it is to be immediately replaced with another such label by an approved interlock service provider.
The maximum penalty for the offence of removal of a prescribed label on an interlock device is $2200.
Q: What happens if someone tampers with or interferes with the interlock device?
It is an offence if anyone, without a reasonable excuse, tampers or otherwise interferes with an interlock device installed in a car. The maximum penalty for this offence is $2200.
Similarly, it is an offence to aid, abet or cause or permit the commission of an offence regarding tampering or interfering with the interlock device. The maximum penalty for this offence is $2200.
The interlock device records all attempts to start the car, including corresponding blood alcohol levels. It also records the results of running retests required during a trip. The interlock device is programmed to initiate certain actions in response to a certain event or series of events.
Q: What will prevent people from attempting to circumvent the interlock device?
Apart from heavy penalties, interlock devices are difficult to circumvent. Tamper evident seals secure the interlock device. Interlock devices can detect a non-human air sample such as an air pump sample.
They are programmed to require retests at random intervals to ensure that the driver is sober. The interlock device requires an adult breath sample.
Q: What will prevent interlock device users getting another (sober) person to provide a breath sample to start the car?
Attitudes towards drink driving have changed over the past 20 years. Drink driving is no longer socially acceptable. Rather it is seen as an unacceptable risk to the driver and other road users. It is unlikely that many people would agree to contribute to this risk by providing a breath sample for an alcohol affected driver.
However, if a person does breach an alcohol interlock condition by getting another person to provide a breath sample to start the vehicle, severe penalties apply.
Remember the interlock device is programmed to require retests at regular random intervals while the car is being driven to ensure that the driver is sober.
Q: Is there a minimum amount of driving required with the interlock device fitted?
No. There is no minimum amount of driving required for a car fitted with an interlock device.
Q: What if I am not able to attend a service appointment?
If the car is not submitted for the scheduled service visit the interlock device will initiate a five day countdown period during which an audible and visual warning is displayed to alert the driver. If the car is not maintained before the expiry of this period the interlock device triggers a permanent lockout state and you will have to have your vehicle towed at your own expense to the nearest approved service provider. Contact your approved service provider immediately if you cannot make your service appointment.
Q: What happens if my interlock device service period falls on a public holiday?
The approved service provider will work out the closest working day which suits you, but your interlock service interval must not extend beyond 34 days.
Q: What happens if the interlock device malfunctions?
If the interlock device is not working properly contact your interlock device supplier or approved service provider immediately. The problem may be solved over the phone.
Q: Can prescription drugs interfere with the interlock device test results?
To date there have been no known problems with prescription drugs. However, some medicines, mouthwash or foods may contain alcohol (ethanol). Check labels for contents. You should wait a minimum of 10 minutes after using any such products to avoid a false reading.
Q: What happens if my financial status changes during the interlock participation period?
If your financial status changes during the interlock participation period, such as if you are no longer working and receiving an unemployment benefit, you may be eligible for the RMS’ Alcohol Interlock Program Financial Assistance Scheme. You must show your health care concession card to the approved installer or service provider to obtain the subsidy.
If, on the other hand, you are currently receiving the program subsidy and your financial status changes whereby you no longer qualify for the subsidy, it is your responsibility to inform the installer or service provider of your changed status. It is an offence to obtain money under false circumstances.
Q: What if I plan to buy a new car while I am an interlock driver licence holder?
You need to contact RMS for approval before you have the interlock removed from your vehicle. You need to arrange for an approved interlock installer to remove the interlock device before selling your current car. You will also need to arrange for an approved interlock device to be installed in your new car before you can drive it.
You cannot drive a vehicle unless a properly operating, RMS approved interlock device has been installed by an approved interlock installer.
Q: If I have a heavy vehicle licence, can I drive a heavy vehicle fitted with an interlock?
No. You cannot drive a heavy vehicle while on the interlock program. However, your heavy vehicle licence can be downgraded to a Class C (car) licence so you can participate in the interlock program. Whilst in the program you will be able to drive your car or light vehicle but not your heavy vehicle.
Q: If I have a motorcycle riders licence, can I ride a motorcycle fitted with an interlock?
No. You cannot ride a motorcycle while on the interlock program. However, if you also have a Class C (car) licence you can participate in the interlock program. Whilst in the program you will be able to drive your car but you will not be able to ride your motorcycle.
Q: What do I need to do to get my other licence types (eg motorcycle or heavy vehicle) reissued after being on the interlock program?
If you have held another licence type before entering the interlock program and you have been disqualified for a total of two years or more, it will be necessary for you to successfully undertake a knowledge and driving/riding test to be issued with the additional class of licence.
Q: What if I have an outstanding suspension before I enter the program?
If you have an outstanding suspension before you enter the program you should contact the RMS on 13 22 13 to discuss your situation.
Q: What if I have unpaid fines before I enter the program?
The RMS cannot do business with you if you have any outstanding traffic fines. Contact the State Debt Recovery Office on 1300 655 805 to ensure you have no outstanding fines.
Q: What if I cannot blow properly into the interlock device?
The interlock device requires breath samples of 1000 millilitres. If you have respiratory problems you may not be able to provide this volume of breath sample and the interlock program would not be suitable for you. If you are uncertain about your ability to provide an adequate breath sample, your doctor may arrange a lung capacity test for you. Alternatively, contact the interlock suppliers to discuss the option of testing the device.
Q: Do I have to enter the program immediately after the expiry of my disqualification compliance period?
No. You can enter the program any time after the expiry of your disqualification compliance period, as long as it is before the expiry of your full disqualification period.
Q: What happens if I have the interlock installed or attend the medical consultation more than 28 days before the expiry of my disqualification compliance period?
If the Interlock Certificate or Brief Medical Intervention Certificate is dated earlier than 28 days before the expiry of your disqualification compliance period your application for an interlock licence will be refused. If this happens, you will need to obtain both certificates again before you can enter the interlock program.
Q: What if I want to move interstate while I am in the interlock program?
If you decide to move to another state while you are in the program, you will be effectively withdrawing from the NSW Alcohol Interlock Program. This is because you are required to obtain a licence in the state in which you reside. Once you surrender your NSW interlock licence, the balance of your disqualification will automatically be reimposed and you will be disqualified from driving in NSW. Therefore, the other state may refuse to issue you with a licence, or will cancel your interstate licence once they are notified that you have been re-disqualified in NSW.
Q: Can I supervise a learner driver whilst on an interlock licence?
The legislation does not prohibit you from supervising a learner driver provided you do so in a car that is fitted with an interlock device. TheRMS recommends that you, as the interlock program participant, continue to provide the breath samples required by the device rather than have the learner driver submit breath samples. This ensures that you as the supervising licence holder are sober and that the learner driver can concentrate on the driving task itself while their driving skills are still developing.
Q: What if my car breaks down and I can’t afford to have the car fixed or buy another car for some time?
If your car breaks down and you can’t afford to have it fixed or replaced, it may be more appropriate for you to withdraw from the interlock program. If you decide to withdraw from the interlock program, you must obtain RMS approval to have the interlock device removed from your car, and it must be removed by an approved interlock installer.
However, if you are only going to be without a car for a short time, you may be able to have the interlock device temporarily removed. You still need RMS approval to have the device temporarily removed from your vehicle, and it can only be removed by an approved interlock installer.