Alcohol Interlock in NSW

The Program

Who is Required to Participate?

All drivers convicted of a repeat or serious drink driving offence committed on or after 1 February 2015 will receive an alcohol interlock in NSW order that requires them to participate in the Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program (unless the court determines an exemption applies).

A person who receives an interlock order and does not enter the interlock program will be disqualified from holding a licence (other than a learner or interlock licence) for a period of five years from the date of their conviction.

What Does the Interlock Program Entail?

This program involves a device being fitted to your vehicle that requires a sample of breath for the ignition to start. It’s designed to allow convicted drivers to continue driving legally after rendering their short period of disqualification.  The exact period of disqualification will vary depending on the offence charged.

How Does the Interlock Device Work?

Once you are mandated to have this device fitted in your car, an RMS approved Interlock Device is fitted to your car, at your expense. Before you can start and use your vehicle, you need to pass the breath test. If you are over the legal limit, the engine simply will not start, however even once moving the device will require retakes of breath samples at random intervals. If you fail one of these retakes, the device will sound an alarm using both the horn and lights until the ignition is turned off. A breath test is then required to restart the car.

Although the interlock device sounds daunting – remember that it is a small price to pay to get you back on the road and on with your life.

Drink driving reforms launched to improve road safety

Under the new legislation:

  • First time mid-range drink-driving offenders will need to have an alcohol interlock device installed to show that they can separate their drinking from driving.
  • Police will be able to apply vehicle sanctions, including confiscating number plates or impounding the vehicle of high-risk, repeat drink driving offenders.

The Penalty

OffenceMinimum disqualificationMaximum disqualificationMinimum Interlock Period
Novice Range (2nd Offence)1 month3 months12 months
Special Range (2nd Offence)1 month3 months12 months
Low Range (2nd Offence)1 month3 months12 months
Middle Range (2nd Offence)6 months9 months24 months
High Range (1st Offence)6 months9 months24 months
High Range (2nd Offence)9 months12 months48 months
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) (2nd Offence)6 months9 months24 months
Refuse Breath Analysis  (1st Offence)6 months9 months24 months
Refuse Breath Analysis  (2nd Offence)9 months12 months48 months

Can I Avoid an Interlock?

The only way to avoid an interlock device is to apply to the court for an exemption at sentencing.

Under s.212 (3) of the Road Transport Act 2013, a court may grant an exemption order if the offender proves to the court’s satisfaction:

(a) that the offender does not have access to a vehicle in which to install an interlock device;

(b) that the offender has a medical condition diagnosed by a registered medical practitioner that prevents the offender from providing a sufficient breath sample to operate the device; or

(c) if the offender is convicted of an offence against section 110(4)(a), (b) or (c) that is a first offence–

(i) that the making of a mandatory interlock order would cause severe hardship to the offender, and

(ii) that the making of an interlock exemption order is more appropriate in all the circumstances.

For further information on the Alcohol Interlock Device you can visit the RMS website or give our Driving Defence Lawyers a call to discuss how we may be able to help you avoid one.