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Published: 20 April 2018
Author: Nicole Elliot

Drink and Drug Driving laws are changing with tough new penalties

From 30 April 2018 tougher penalties will apply for motorists caught with alcohol and/or drugs in their system.

New laws will take effect from 30 April 2018, if you are caught with a blood alcohol level of .05 or above you will face the following consequences:

  • automatic loss of licence;
  • mandatory fine;
  • completion of a drink driver behaviour change program prior to re-licencing; and
  • your vehicle will be fitted with an alcohol interlock system for a period of at least 6 months, and this has increased from the previous 3- month suspension.

These penalties will also apply to a commercial driver who commits their first drink driving offence with a Blood Alcohol Content 9BAS) under .05.

Penalties increased for drug drivers

Drivers caught with drugs in their system on or after 30 April 2018 will face an automatic loss of licence for at least 6 months and will be required to complete a drug driver behaviour change program prior to relicensing. Behaviour change programs are set to vary depending on the offence but are said to be 12 hours long and sessions are held over separate days.

These tough new laws come into force to help curb drug and alcohol fatalities on our roads. With the new laws set to compliment the transport Accident Commission’s (TAC) ‘Drinking. Driving. They're Better Apart’ campaign reminding motorists that impairment from alcohol starts at a blood alcohol level of 0.02, urging motorists to plan ahead prior to drinking by either leaving your car at home, booking a taxi home or using public transport.

Lives lost statistics highlight dangers of drink driving

The TAC reported 61 deaths on our roads so far this year, and close to 1 in 5 motorists who lost their lives on our roads in the past 5 years had a blood alcohol concentration of greater than 0.05.

A series of exclusions to motorists are applied by the TAC when they are injured in a motor vehicle involving the use of alcohol or drugs. The Commission is not liable to make any payments of compensation for loss of earnings or impairment to a person who:

  • at the time of the accident was driving the motor vehicle and has been convicted of a driving offence; or
  • was under the influence of alcohol or any drug to an extent that they could not maintain proper control of the vehicle.

A person may still be entitled to compensation payments if they are able to satisfy the Commission that the presence of alcohol and or drugs did not in any way contribute to the motor vehicle accident.

The TAC may also seek to recover from an intoxicated driver any sum of damages (including costs) paid by the Commission to a person injured as a result of the accident if the driver has been convicted of a serious indictable offence.