What is the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program and do I have to participate in it?

The Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program is designed for drivers who are convicted of high-risk drink driving offences. The purpose of this program is to provide assistance to drink drivers to separate drinking and driving when they get their licence back. There have been some recent amendments that came into effect in September 2021 which expand the program to also capture people convicted of mid-range drink driving offences, as well as some other changes.

The program is an automatic consequence of being convicted of certain Driving offences and is generally not taken into account by the Presiding Magistrate when imposing sentence for the offence. The Magistrate is not able to exclude people from participating in the program.

What is an interlock device?

An interlock device is a breath analyser for an individual’s vehicle. The device is connected to a vehicle’s ignition and the driver is required to provide a breath sample in order to start the vehicle. The vehicle can only start if there is no alcohol detected. A random breath sample may also be requested during a journey.

The interlock records data such as:

  • All breath samples (including when the vehicle doesn’t start)
  • When the vehicle is used
  • Interlock service information

A vehicle that has an interlock device installed can still be driven by others, but whoever is driving must also provide breath samples to be able to start the vehicle.

If you are required to participate in the performance-based interlock program, you need to install an interlock with a camera which will take:

  • A reference photo when the interlock is first installed
  • A photo each time a breach sample is taken

Do I need to participate in the program?

You need to participate in the interlock program if you commit and are convicted of any of the following offences:

  • Drink driving with a blood/breath alcohol concentration of:
    • 0.15 or more
    • 0.10 or more (and the offence was committed on or after 10 September 2021)
  • Failing to provide a blood/breath specimen for analysis
  • Dangerous driving while affected by alcohol
  • Two or more drink driving offences within 5 years.

As of Friday 10 September 2021, there are two interlock programs:

  1. Performance-based interlock program
  2. Time-based interlock program

Each program is for a minimum of 12 months.

Performance-based interlock program

You will be in the performance-based interlock program if:

  • You were convicted of a high-risk drink driving offence before 9 September 2021 and your licence disqualification ends on or after 9 September 2021; or
  • You are convicted of a high-risk drink driving offence on or after 9 September 2021

If you do not comply with the rules of the program, the time of the program will be extended. If you choose to not participate in this program, you will not be allowed to drive for five years from the end of your disqualification (or the date you were issued a work licence).

If you have been convicted of two or more drink driving offences on or after 10 September 2021, you must also complete the repeat drink driving course before you are eligible to then complete the alcohol ignition interlock program.  There is no fee to enrol in the course but you must attend and complete six sessions of learning. 

Time-based interlock program

You will be in the time-based interlock program if:

  • You were convicted of a high-risk drink driving offence before 9 September 2021 and your licence disqualification ended before 9 September 2021.

If you do not participate in the program, you will not be allowed to drive for 2 years from the end of your disqualification.

How often do I have to have the interlock device serviced?

You must have your vehicle with the interlock services one month after the interlock is installed, then every three months you are on the program and at the end of the program.  If you miss a service you will receive a permanent lockout which will also extend the period of the program.

This post contains general advice only and is not intended as legal advice.