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Insights

In addition to serving a period of disqualification, (where convicted offenders are unable to drive), the new penalties require that offenders also participate a Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program. These orders are known as Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program orders.

Interlock devices are electronic breath testing devices linked to the ignition system of a motor vehicles. A driver who is required to participate in a Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program must first provide a breath sample into an interlock device before driving that vehicle. A negative sample is required before the motor vehicle will start.

Interlock orders are mandatory for anyone convicted of a high range drink-driving offence. They are also mandatorily for repeat serious drink driving offences.

In limited circumstances a convicted offender can apply for an exemption to the  Mandatory  Alcohol Interlock Program. However, if such an exemption is granted, the offender is likely to be ordered to serve a longer disqualification period off the road.

A person who is order to participate in the Mandatory  Alcohol Interlock Program, but choses not too, otherwise faces being  disqualified from holding a license for a period of five years from the date of the conviction.

The following guide is provided by the Roads and Maritime Service which sets out the initial disqualification period and the subsequent Mandatory  Alcohol Interlock Program periods for certain offences.

Mandatory interlock offence

Disqualification period

Minimum interlock period

Disqualification period (if exemption order is made)

Low Range  Drink Driving

(where there is a previous conviction for any alcohol-related major offence within the previous five-year period.)

Min: 1 month Max: 3 months

12 months

Automatic: 12 months (Min: 6 months)

See Note 2

Mid-range Drink Driving

( where there is a previous conviction for any alcohol-related major offence within the previous five-year period.)

Min: 6 monthsMax: 9 months

24 months

Automatic: 3 years (Min: 12 months)

High-range  Drink Driving

First offence by the offender for any alcohol-related major offence.

Min: 6 months Max: 9 months

24 months

Automatic: 3 years (Min: 12 months)

High-range  Drink Driving

(where there is a previous conviction for any alcohol-related major offence within the previous five-year period.)

Min: 9 monthsMax: 12 months

48 months

Automatic: 5 years (Min: 2 years)

The new penalty regime, which was introduced in February 2015,  actually sees a reduction in what was previously the mandatorily disqualification period for  convicted high range drink drivers. The reduction in the mandatory disqualification period obviously takes into account the fact that the convicted offender is now required to participate in a further period where they are subject to the Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program.

People that are ordered to the participate in the Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program are required to have an interlock device installed in their car. The offender is  also required to have the device regularly serviced by an accredited interlock service provider. There are program costs involved in relation to the interlock devices. In some circumstances there are also concession rates for people who  qualify under a financial hardship test. Further information about the program costs, as well as possible concession rate, are available through the Roads and Maritime Services website.

Given the introduction of these new mandatorily penalties it is important that if a person is charged with any form of drink driving offence that they seek proper legal advice.

This article was written by the Kells Criminal Law Team.