Repeat drink drivers and drivers who blow more than two times the legal limit can soon be ordered by the courts to install a device that will stop their cars from starting if they have alcohol on their breath.
The new “interlock” devices, which act as a breathalyser connected to the car’s engine were launched today and will come into force on September 10.
New interlock devices will stop cars from starting if alcohol is recorded on the person’s berath. Photo: File.
At the same time the new ‘zero licence sanction’ will come into play requiring drivers to maintain a zero alcohol limit for a fixed period of three years.
These measures are the latest in a series of clampdowns on repeat drink-drivers.
Western Bay of Plenty Road Policing manager Senior Sergeant Ian Campion says drink driving is a major problem in the Bay of Plenty with 698 drink driving convictions as at 7 August this year.
In 2011 there were 1532 people convicted of driving under the influence, a reduction compared to previous years with 1675 convictions in 2007 and 1867 convictions in 2008.
“Drink driving remains a major issue,” says Ian.
From September 10, New Zealand courts will have the ability to require serious or repeat drink-drivers, and offenders convicted of driving with blood alcohol levels double the current adult limit of 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, to have alcohol interlock devices fitted to their vehicles at the cost of $150 a month.
An alcohol interlock is a device similar to a breathalyser that is connected to a vehicle’s starting system.
Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must provide a breath sample. If the analysed result is higher than the pre-programmed breath-alcohol level, the vehicle will not start.
Interlocks in New Zealand will be effectively set for a zero limit.
Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges says interlocks are the latest in a raft of important new measures being introduced to reduce deaths and injuries caused by drink-drivers as part of the Government’s Safer Journeys strategy.
“These new court-imposed sanctions were made possible under legislative changes introduced by the Government last year,” says Simon.
Drivers will still face three months’ disqualification from driving before the offenders are able to apply for the alcohol interlock licence, which will restrict them to driving a vehicle with an interlock device fitted.
“In addition, from 10 September the ‘zero alcohol’ licence sanction will also be available, which will require drivers to maintain a zero alcohol limit for a fixed period of three years.”
The zero alcohol licences will be issued to drivers given a ‘zero alcohol’ disqualification by the courts, as well as to those who have served an alcohol interlock disqualification and have been approved to exit the interlock programme.
“These measures are part of a concerted effort to tackle the serious harm caused by drink-driving, which includes a zero blood alcohol limit for all drivers under the age of 20 and a doubled maximum penalty for drink or drugged driving causing death.
“The reckless actions of those who drink too much and get behind the wheel remain a cause of many road deaths and injuries.
“The alcohol interlocks disqualification will help stop them from re-offending and make the roads safer for everyone.”