Interlocks

Interlocks

An interlock is a device which must be fitted to a vehicle driven by an “alcohol offender”.  An interlock requires that the driver provide a sample of breath for analysis into the device prior to being able to start the vehicle.  If the interlock detects alcohol in the breath of the person who provides the sample, it will prevent the vehicle from being started for a short period of time. 

Interlocks are designed to provide a way to prevent a person who is an “alcohol offender” from driving a motor vehicle whilst there is any alcohol in their breath.

This section sets out who is required to have an approved interlock device fitted to their vehicle, how long the person is required to have the interlock fitted, how the interlock is to be maintained and what offences can be committed in relation to interlocks.

The relevant legislation is Part 5A of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA).

Who is an “Alcohol Offender”?

Pursuant to regulation 69A of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), a person is an “alcohol offender” if they:

  • Have committed an “alcohol interlock offence”; or
  • Hold, or immediately before being granted a driver’s licence in WA, held a driver’s licence from another jurisdiction which was subjected to an interlock condition in that other jurisdiction.

What is an “Alcohol Interlock Offence”?

Pursuant to regulation 3 of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), an “alcohol interlock offence” means:

  • Dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm while under the influence of:
    • Alcohol to such an extent as being incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle pursuant to section 59(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) (The Act); or
    • Alcohol and drugs to such an extent of being incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle pursuant to section 59(1)(bb) of The Act;
  • Driving a motor vehicle which is involved in a collision which causes bodily harm to another person and the driver was under the influence of:
    • Alcohol to such an extent as being incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle pursuant to section 59A(1)(a) of The Act; or
    • Alcohol and drugs to such an extent of being incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle pursuant to section 59A(1)(bb) of The Act;
  • Driving a motor vehicle while being under the influence of:
    • Alcohol to such an extent as being incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle pursuant to section 63(1)(a) of The Act; or
    • Alcohol and drugs to such an extent of being incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle pursuant to section 63(1)(c) of The Act;
  • Driving a motor vehicle with a “blood alcohol content” of:
    • 0.08 or more pursuant to section 64(1) of The Act;
    • 0.05 or more pursuant to section 64AA(1) of The Act; or
    • 0.02 or more pursuant to section 64A of The Act where the driver is:
      • Subjected to a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.00 pursuant to section 62A(1) of The Act; or
      • Driving a motor vehicle of a class which requires the driver to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.00 pursuant to section 64A(4) of The Act.

IF:

In the previous five years the person has been convicted of an offence against:

  • Section 59(1)(a) or (bb) of The Act;
    • Section 59A(1)(a) of (bb) of The Act;
    • Section 63(1)(a) or (c) of The Act;
    • Section 64(1) of The Act;
    • Section 64AA(1) of The Act;
    • Section 64A(1) or (4) of The Act; or
    • Section 67(2)(a), (b), (c) or (d) of The Act;
  • Failing to comply with a requirement to:
  • Provide a sample of breath for analysis pursuant to section 67(2)(a) of The Act;
    • Allow a prescribed sample taker to take a sample of their blood for analysis pursuant to section 67(2)(b) of The Act;
    • Provide a prescribed sample taker with a sample of their urine for analysis pursuant to section 67(2)(c) of The Act; or
    • Accompany a police officer to a police station or some other place and to wait at that place pursuant to section 67(2)(d) of The Act.

Consequences of Being an “Alcohol Offender

If an “alcohol offender” is granted a driver’s licence then pursuant to regulation 69D(1) of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA) (The Regulations), the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Transport must endorse that licence with an “I” condition. 

This is a condition which requires that the person comply with the relevant interlock conditions whenever they drive a motor vehicle on a road whilst that condition remains active.  This means the person can only drive a motor vehicle which is fitted with an interlock device which has been installed by an accredited service provider.

Pursuant to regulation 69D(2) of The Regulations, if a person is granted an Extraordinary Driver’s Licence, that licence is subject to the “I” condition regardless of whether or not the Court which granted the licence stipulates it is to apply.

What is the Applicable Blood Alcohol Limit Which Applies to an “Alcohol Offender”?

As a result of the operation of regulation 69C of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), the blood alcohol limit for a person who is an “alcohol offender” is 0.00 – that is, no alcohol at all.  As such, a person who is an “alcohol offender” must not drive a motor vehicle on a road when they have any alcohol whatsoever in their blood.

People who are Exempt from Interlock Provisions

Pursuant to regulation 69E(1) of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA) (The Regulations) a person can be exempt from having their driver’s licence endorsed with an interlock “I”condition if:

  • They live more than 150 kilometres from a premise where the services of an accredited service provider are available; or
  • They suffer from a medical condition which the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Transport is satisfied will prevent them from being able to operate an interlock device.

If a person is exempt, an interlock “I” condition cannot be placed on their driver’s licence unless that person requests in writing that the condition be imposed pursuant to regulation 69E(2) of The Regulations.

An interlock “I” condition must be removed from a driver’s licence if a person becomes exempt pursuant to regulation 69E(4) of The Regulations.

The Restricted Driving Period

The “restricted driving period” is the period during which the “I” condition will be endorsed on the driver’s licence of the “alcohol offender”.  It is usually 180 days, but must be a continuous period of 180 days.  Refer to “Demonstration of Separation of Drinking and Driving Behaviour” for further information.

Pursuant to regulation 69L of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), the “restricted driving period” commences when the “alcohol offender” has an approved interlock device fitted in a vehicle that the person is authorised to drive following the person’s most recent conviction for an “alcohol interlock offence”.  This means that a person does not commence the “restricted driving period” until they actually have the approved interlock device installed.  It does not begin at the time the person is granted a driver’s licence.

Inspection Obligation

Pursuant to regulation 69M(1) of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA) (The Regulations), during the “restricted driving period” the interlock-restricted driver must periodically present the vehicle in which the interlock is fitted so the interlock can be inspected.  The relevant interlock contract which is applicable will stipulate the relevant periods for such inspections.

Pursuant to regulation 69M(2) of The Regulations, a person who has been granted an Extraordinary Driver’s Licence is permitted to drive by the most direct convenient route to enable such inspections to take place if the driving would otherwise fall outside of the conditions which were imposed when that licence was granted.

Alcohol Assessment and Treatment during Restricted Driving Period

Pursuant to regulation 69N of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Transport (CEO) may order that the interlock-restricted driver undergo alcohol assessment and treatment if the CEO reasonably believes:

  • Any person has tampered with or attempted to tamper with the alcohol interlock device which has been installed in the driver’s vehicle;
  • During any inspection period, the alcohol interlock device has recorded a positive reading on three or more occasions; or
  • The driver has failed to comply with a periodic inspection obligation which was imposed in the relevant interlock contract.

Termination and Restart of Restricted Driving Period

Pursuant to regulation 69O(1) of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA) (The Regulations), there are certain factors which will cause the “restricted driving period” to terminate and immediately restart.  This has the effect that the number of days which preceded the termination of the “restricted driving period” will be disregarded for the purposes of “Demonstrating Separation of Drinking and Driving Behaviour”.

The following table sets out the events which can lead to the termination and the date on which the termination is taken to have effect:

The alcohol interlock installed in the driver’s relevant vehicle records that a person has tampered or attempted to tamper with it, and the recorded details are reported to the CEO in accordance with the interlock contract.The recorded date of the tampering or attempted tampering.
An inspection by an accredited service provider of an alcohol interlock installed in the driver’s relevant vehicle discloses physical evidence of tampering or attempted tampering which the interlock has not recorded, and the evidence is reported to the CEO in accordance with the interlock contract.The date of the inspection.
The alcohol interlock installed in the driver’s relevant vehicle records that, within any inspection period, the alcohol interlock installed in the driver’s relevant vehicle has been triggered on 3 or more occasions, and the recorded details are reported to the CEO in accordance with the interlock contract.The recorded date of the last occasion within the inspection period on which the alcohol interlock was triggered.
Since the most recent occasion on which a restricted driving period for the driver has started under regulation 69L or the driver fails to comply with more than one periodic inspection obligation under regulation 69M(1).If the failure arises because, although the vehicle is presented for inspection within the time required under the terms of the interlock contract, it is not presented personally by the driver — the date on which it is presented for inspection.   If the failure arises because the vehicle is not presented for inspection within the time required under the terms of the interlock contract — the next date on which it is presented for inspection.

Pursuant to regulation 69O(2) of The Regulations, the “restricted driving period” will terminate if:

  • The person’s driver’s licence is suspended;
  • The person’s driver’s licence expires and is not immediately renewed; or
  • The person ceases to have possession of the relevant vehicle with the approved interlock device fitted.

In such cases, the “restricted driving period” will re-commence when the driver has:

  • A valid driver’s licence; and
  • A relevant vehicle with the approved interlock device fitted.

Demonstrating Separation of Drinking and Driving Behaviour

Pursuant to regulation 69Q of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA) (The Regulations), an interlock-restricted driver is said to have “demonstrated separation of drinking and driving behaviour” when the following conditions are satisfied:

  • In the case of a driver who has been permanently disqualified from holding a driver’s licence, the person has completed one or more “restricted driving periods” which total at least three years since the most recent date on which:
  • A disqualification was imposed on the driver; or
    • An Extraordinary Driver’s Licence held by the person expired;

Or;

  • In the case of drivers who were not permanently disqualified, every period of disqualification which has been imposed has ended;
  • The driver has started or restarted a “restricted driving period” that has continued for at least 180 days;

And;

  • The Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Transport (CEO) is satisfied that the driver has satisfactorily completed any alcohol assessment and treatment which was ordered by the CEO pursuant to regulation 69N of The Regulations.

When Does an Alcohol Interlock Condition End?

Pursuant to regulation 69F of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), an alcohol interlock condition is cancelled when the driver is taken to have demonstrated the required “Separation of Drinking and Driving Behaviour”.  Once a person has demonstrated such behaviour, the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Transport must vary the person’s driver’s licence by removing the “I” condition.

Offences Related to Alcohol Interlock Devices

There are several offences which may be committed by people who are “alcohol offenders”.

Tampering with an Alcohol Interlock Device

Pursuant to regulation 69R(1) of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), it is an offence for a person to tamper with – or cause or permit another person to tamper with – an alcohol interlock device which has been fitted to:

  • A motor vehicle as a result of the operation of these regulations; or
  • A motor vehicle which is being driven by, or is intended to be driven by, an alcohol interlock-restricted driver.

The penalty of this offence is a fine of up to 50 penalty units.  As at 1 July, 2018, a penalty unit is $50.00.  Therefore the maximum fine is $2,500.00.

Circumventing the Operation of an Approved Alcohol Interlock

Pursuant to regulation 69R(2) of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), it is an offence for a person to circumvent – or cause or permit another person to circumvent – the operation of an approved alcohol interlock device which has been fitted to:

  • A motor vehicle as a result of the operation of these regulations; or
  • A motor vehicle which is being driven by, or is intended to be driven by, an alcohol interlock-restricted driver.

An example of how this offence may be committed is where a person who is an “alcohol offender” allows another person to provide a sample of breath for analysis by the interlock device rather than providing their own sample of breath.

The penalty of this offence is a fine of up to 50 penalty units.  As at 1 July, 2018, a penalty unit is $50.00.  Therefore the maximum fine is $2,500.00.

Driving While Unlicensed or Disqualified

Pursuant to regulation 69B of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA), a person who is an “alcohol offender” who drives, on a road, a motor vehicle that does not have an alcohol interlock device fitted as required commits the offence of “Driving While Unlicensed or Disqualified” pursuant to section 49(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) (The Act).

This means that a person who holds a driver’s licence which is endorsed with an “I” condition who is detected driving a motor vehicle on a road without having an approved alcohol interlock device fitted to the vehicle is effectively held to be driving while unlicensed.

The penalty for this offence, pursuant to section 49(3)(da) of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA), is:

  • For a first offence – a fine of between 8 and 40 penalty units.  As at 1 July, 2018, a penalty unit is $50.00.  Therefore the fine would be between  $400.00 and $2,000.00; and
    • Imprisonment for not more than 12 months; or
  • For a subsequent offence – a fine of between 20 and 80 penalty units.  As at 1 July, 2018, a penalty unit is $50.00.  Therefore the fine would be between $1,000.00 and $4,000.00; and
    • Imprisonment for not more than 18 months.

A person found guilty of this offence MUST also be disqualified from holding a driver’s licence for not less than nine months and not more than three years.

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