An ignition interlock is a device aimed at preventing a person from operating a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds zero. Queensland interlock laws were introduced in 2010 and apply to offenders convicted of particular drink driving offences.
Who is subject to interlock conditions?
Interlock conditions are automatically imposed following a licence disqualification for any of the following offences:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol (high range drink driving or a BAC of 0.15 or greater);
- A subsequent conviction for any drink driving offence in a period of 5 years;
- Failing to provide a specimen of blood, breath or saliva (offence under section 80(11) of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995;
- Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while adversely affected by alcohol (offence under section 328A of Criminal Code Act 1899.
The interlock device must be fitted for a period of 12 months. If a person does not obtain an exemption and chooses to not install an interlock device, they will be unable to drive for a period of two years.
Legislation passed in 2019 will see the interlock laws capture a greater number of drink drivers. However, at the time of this article, a commencement date for the new amendments has not been confirmed.
Exemptions from the interlock program
In limited circumstances, a person may apply for exemption from an interlock condition. Broadly speaking, the circumstances encompass relevant medical conditions, rural and remote residency and severe financial hardship.
Applications must be made to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, accompanied by an application fee. The Department have a detailed form setting out eligibility and procedure for exemption applications.
The Department must decide applications within 28 days. They can refuse or approve applications, sometimes with specific conditions.
What are the costs of an interlock device?
There are only two approved interlock device installers in Queensland; Guardian Interlock and Draeger. Over the course of the 12 month period, the total costs can exceed well over $1,000. This may be a significant expense for many individuals.
Financial assistance may be available to those with limited finances, assessed by income and liquid assets as set out in the Department’s interlock information page.
What are the consequences of driving without an interlock device?
It is an offence to drive a vehicle that has not been fitted with an interlock device or to breach any condition imposed under an interlock exemption. In either situation, the individual must be disqualified for:
- 3 months; or
- 6 months for a second offence of the same type within 5 years.
Further, it is an offence to drive a vehicle that is fitted with an interlock device but nominated for another person. However, this offence does not carry any disqualification.
How we can help
We represent clients in drink and drug driving matters and applying for work licences or special hardship orders. We can also advise whether you will be subject to an interlock condition and assist with applications for exemption.