Months after signalling a crack down on distracted drivers, the State Government has passed tough new drink driving laws for Queensland.
Under the changes that were passed during regional parliament in Townsville earlier this month, the alcohol interlock program, which requires sentenced drink drivers to unlock their cars by passing a breath test on a device installed in their vehicle, will be expanded to apply to mid-range drink drivers.
Other changes include requiring all drink driving offenders to complete an education intervention program before they can reapply for their driver licence.
With drink driving accounting for a quarter of Queensland’s road toll, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the tougher laws would send a strong message to drivers who can’t separate driving from drinking.
“Last year, 63 people died on Queensland roads because of drink drivers. The year before it was 43 people,” Mr Bailey said.
“This is unacceptable.
“We know mid-range drink drivers account for more than a quarter of all drink driving offenders and have a crash risk 20 times greater than someone who hasn’t had a drink.
“That’s why we’re proposing to expand the alcohol ignition interlock program to include drink drivers with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) between 0.10 and 0.149.
“Under the new laws, drink drivers will need to have an alcohol interlock in their vehicle until they can show a consistent record of clear breath tests over time."
To support the performance-based interlock program, the current two years ‘sit out period’ that applies to those people who chose not to fit an interlock to a vehicle, will be increased to five years.
This means a person cannot drive for five years if they choose not to participate in the interlock program.
Mr Bailey said education was also a key focus of the new legislation.
“There is currently no legislative requirement for drink driving offenders to complete intervention or education programs as part of their return to driving,” Mr Bailey said.
“Research indicates that education programs delivered to both first-time and repeat drink driving offenders reduces the rate of re-offending.
“The new laws will compel all first-time offenders to complete an online Brief Intervention Education Program before they can drive again.
“Repeat offenders will also have to complete a more intensive, multi-session program to help them change their behaviour.
"These changes are a critical next step towards reducing road trauma caused by drink drivers and confirm our commitment to making our roads safer.”
The reforms to Queensland's drink driving laws will be rolled out over the next two years.
To learn more about drink driving and read about other Queensland road safety initiatives, visit https://streetsmarts.initiatives.qld.gov.au/