A stiff drink before driving now carries even stiffer penalties
NSW Police will be able to hand out on-the-spot fines and automatic licence disqualifications for low-range DUI offences under new legislation currently being considered.
Under the changes, police will be asked to issue on-the-spot fines of $561 for first-time low-range drink-drivers, as well as a three-month licence suspension, with the new laws expected to be introduced by May 2019.
Under the current law, all DUI offenders in NSW are obligated to go before the court, with a magistrate then handing out a penalty. But with more than 50 per cent of first-time offenders receiving no fine or recorded conviction, NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey is now pushing for on-the-spot penalties to act as a stronger deterrent.
“Studies have found an increase in crash risk of around four times at the lower end of middle range up to 0.08 blood alcohol content [BAC] compared with unimpaired driving,” she says. “At the high end, near 0.15 BAC, the crash risk rises steeply to around 12 times.
“An added benefit of these initiatives will be the substantial reduction in matters automatically referred to the NSW Local Court, which will reduce pressure on court resources. Police attendance at court to provide evidence in these types of matters is also expected to be reduced, which will give time back to high visibility, on-road policing.”
First-time mid-range DUI offenders would have an Interlock breath-test device fitted to their cars as part of the changes – a measure usually reserved for high-range or repeat offenders. The devices, which require the driver to pass an alcohol-free breath-test before allowing a car to start, cost about $300 to install and remove.
The changes follow new tougher measures recently introduced in Victoria, where anyone caught drink-driving is handed a six-month licence suspension, ordered to attend a Behaviour Change Program and fit an Interlock device to their car for at least six months.