The State Government has passed tough new drink driving laws for Queensland, which will see motorists think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking.
The laws were passed during regional parliament in Townsville overnight, months after the Government signalled a crack down on distracted drivers.
Under the changes, 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.
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Other changes include requiring all drink driving offenders to complete an education intervention program before they can reapply for their driver licence.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the tougher laws would send a strong message to motorists 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.
“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 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 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.
“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.”
The reforms are expected to be rolled out over the next two years.