Alcohol interlock plan for repeat drink-drivers

REPEAT drink-drivers will be ineligible to get their licence back after June this year unless they pay to have an alcohol interlock installed in their car.

The three providers of the long-awaited $430,000 alcohol interlock program were announced yesterday.

Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne said that once the program was in place, repeat drink-drivers or people who drove with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher would have to go through the interlock program as a condition of getting their licence back after disqualification.

The minimum 15-month program costs $3000, but a 35 per cent discount will be available for eligible concession holders. The program was suggested in 2005, trialled in 2009, promised at the 2010 election and scheduled to be delivered last year.

Mr O'Bryne said it had taken ``some time'' to ensure the penalties and regulations governing the program were appropriate.

He said the extra time also allowed Tasmania to make sure data from the devices would be regularly transmitted to his department so a failure to comply can be spotted early.

Assistant Police Commissioner Donna Adams said the interlock devices would help keep drink-driving in check.

``Alcohol is a dominant factor in serious and fatal crashes, and to be able to have a device out there to control the actions of those recidivist drink-drivers is going to be of benefit to policing,'' Ms Adams said. ``This is aimed at a small cohort of people who are not abiding by the law, and this provides them with an option where if they want to get back behind the wheel, they can get the car fitted with a device that will regulate their driving.''

Australian Lawyers Alliance president Greg Barns said the program unfairly targeted low-income earners, who may have to give up their employment if they could not afford to take part in the program to get their licence back. ``When you have got repeat offenders, it ought to be dealt with in a therapeutic way, not a punitive way,'' Mr Barns said.

Mr O'Byrne said drug and alcohol counselling were option that should be and were considered by the court, but the immobiliser devices were the ``most effective'' tool.

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