Experts back tough approach on drink-driving

On April 30 drink-driving laws changed so that offenders’ licences are lost immediately when found driving over the 0.05 limit. Picture: TAC Facebook

By KAVISHA DI PIETRO

The Victorian Government’s tough stand on “recidivist and low-range” drink-driving offenders is a step in the right direction, the Transport Accident Commission says. 

The new laws, which came into effect at the end of last month, will result in first-time and low-level drink drivers who blow between 0.05 to 0.07 losing their licences for three months.

Those caught driving under the influence will also require an alcohol interlock in their car for six months and have to complete a behavioural change program. 

TAC spokesperson Nicolas McGay said enforcement of the new legislation would act as the best deterrent to curbing drink-driving.

TAC spokesman Nicholas McGay. Picture: LinkedIn

“Enforcement is a proven, effective way of deterring unsafe driver behaviour and the new legislation will act as the strongest deterrent in history for Victorian motorists,” he said.

Despite motorists being aware of the risks associated with drink-driving, the statistics for riders and drivers who have lost their lives with a blood alcohol concentration at or over 0.05 has increased since 2014, when they were at their lowest.

Mr McGay said drink-driving and drug-driving were major factors in deaths and serious injuries on Victorian roads and the Government’s hard-hitting approach addressed the issue. 

“Research has shown licence bans reduce repeat drink-driving offences by 70 per cent while fitting an alcohol interlock device cuts repeat offences by 63 per cent,” he said.

Mr McGay said any level of alcohol in a person’s system, irrespective of age, impaired their judgment and their ability to drive safely, irrespective of age.

“The best thing people can do is to completely separate drinking from driving,” he said.

“If you’re heading out plan ahead and make sure you have a way home that doesn’t include driving.”

In the past 10 years, one in four drivers killed on Victorian roads have been aged 18-25, making this age group one of the most affected by road accidents.

Of the 29 young drivers who lost their lives in Victoria in 2016, 62 per cent were involved in crashes that occurred in high alcohol times, such as weekends, despite P-platers being required to have a reading of 0.00.

Young drivers on their green P Plates must always have a zero blood alcohol level. Photo: Kirsty Wilson

“It could have a positive follow on effect when the transition is lifted as individuals have learnt a good behavioural process,” he said.

“But I feel that more people would be tempted to push the limit on their decision on whether to drive home after having some drinks.”

Mr Veale said the biggest concern for him was the morning after a night out.

“Having the padding of 0.05 BAC gave me piece of mind that I could drive home and be free of the worry that there may still be some residual alcohol working its way through my system that would cost me my licence,” he said.

 

Police get the message out about the new rules on Victoria’s roads. Picture: Twitter.

Amy Holland, 21, who will transition to her full licence at the end of this year, agreed with Mr Veale’s comments.

“In theory, I think it would be a good idea to have a transition period however, I feel like it would encourage young drivers to push the limits,” she said.

Even if a transition period was introduced Ms Holland said if she could avoid driving under the influence she would.

“Perhaps if I had one drink at lunchtime then I would be comfortable driving later that night but definitely not straight after,” she said.

Mr Veale agreed with the implementation of the new laws.

“For me, those that argue against a measure like this are looking at things the wrong way … it is there because that is what has been tested as a safe level to operate a car,” he said.

“Driving is already a dangerous task that most people take for granted and I think it is more than reasonable to punish individuals who undertake (negative) behaviour that reduces one’s ability to drive.”

“People’s lives are on the line and life is one thing that should have the highest value placed on it,” he said.