Starting next month New Zealand courts will have the ability to require serious or repeat drink-drivers to have alcohol interlock devices fitted to their vehicles.
"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," says Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges.
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.
"These new court-imposed sanctions were made possible under legislative changes introduced by the Government last year."
From 10 September, repeat drink drive offenders and first time offenders convicted of driving with blood alcohol levels double the current adult limit could be given an alcohol interlock disqualification at the discretion of the courts.
Following a mandatory three month disqualification (during which no driving is allowed), offenders given an interlock disqualification will be able to apply for an alcohol interlock licence, which will restrict them to driving a vehicle with an interlock device fitted. Offenders will bear the cost of fitting and monitoring the interlocks.
"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."