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Interlocks law passes NSW Parliament

All NSW road users should be safer in the future, with the alcohol interlock device law passing the state parliament this month (August 2014).

Alcohol interlock devices are installed in the car ignition of serious and repeat drink drivers. Before the key starts the engine, the driver will be required to undergo a breath screening test. However, if the device detects alcohol, the car will not start.

Although drink driving statistics have reduced in recent years, it is still a major issue on NSW roads. According to government statistics, there are around 26,000 individual offences each year. The interlock law would apply to around 6,000 people.

Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay explained it was important this law passed as there are too many repeat offenders who disregard other attempts to curb their behaviour such as licence suspensions and mandatory counselling sessions.

"We know drivers convicted of drink driving offences pose a particularly high risk to the community, with data showing one in six offenders could re-offend with a subsequent drink driving offence within five years," he said.

"Shocking statistics show people previously convicted of driving while intoxicated, are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than the average driver - that's why this program is so important."

How will it work?

With the law passed, the government is hoping to have the legislation signed off by the beginning of next year. At that point, authorities will be able to begin installing the devices in the vehicles of repeat and serious drink drivers.

This law will apply to high blood alcohol concentration readings of more than 0.150 and those who have been convicted of two drink driving offences within the last five years. The interlocks will be installed for a period of 12 months.

Mr Gay described two other parts of the law that will deter this type of behaviour.

"Drink drivers who are convicted of a second or subsequent offence in a five year period will be required to pass a driver knowledge test," he said.

"We are also introducing additional penalties for anyone who helps a repeat offender evade the interlock system including a $2200 fine."

Crackdown extension

The passing of the interlock law coincides with Operation Compliance 3 that targeted three other major safety concerns on NSW roads.

On Wednesday (August 13), Traffic and Highway Patrol officers caught 937 drivers using their mobile phone while driving, 818 for breaking school zone safety laws and 388 for illegal vehicle modifications.

Although this behaviour is at the lower end of the criminal scale, Traffic and Highway Patrol's, Acting Assistant Commissioner Bob Ryan believes it will have an impact of road user behaviour.

"While there was a significant police presence on the roads, there were still some individuals that were prepared to break the law, putting others road users at risk," he said.

"With Traffic and Highway Patrol Officers working alongside local police out there, focussing on high-risk driver and rider behaviour, I am pleased to announce that there were no fatalities reported on NSW roads yesterday."

The aim of this operation is to prevent the state's growing road toll. Police believe they can achieve a figure lower than the 2013 figure of 339 fatalities which was the lowest since 1924.