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Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition

– section 50AAD(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986

DrivingIf you get your licence back after being found guilty of a drink-driving offence you will need to pay for an alcohol interlock device to be installed in any vehicle you drive. This means you are participating in the ‘Victorian Alcohol Interlock Program’. This program is compulsory for all drink-driving offenders, regardless of their BAC reading.

An alcohol interlock device is a breath test machine wired onto the ignition system of a vehicle. The device will not allow a car to start unless a 0.00% blood alcohol concentration (‘BAC’) reading is registered.

If you breach the alcohol interlock condition on your licence, you can be charged under section 50AAD(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986. If you are charged, contact a lawyer immediately. Our firm is experienced in dealing with driving matters and can help explain to a Magistrate the reasons behind your offending or perhaps explain why the charge should be withdrawn.

Examples of Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition
  • You decide that the interlock device is too expensive so you take it off your car, and drive without it, even though your licence is still subject to the alcohol interlock condition.
  • You drive to a bar to meet your friends and have a couple of beers. You know your BAC reading will be over 0.00, but you don’t want to leave your car, so you ask your friend to blow into your alcohol interlock device instead.
Questions in cases like this
  • Was the alcohol interlock broken through no fault of your own, and it was not reasonable for you to be aware of this?
  • Did your licence actually have an alcohol interlock condition? (You licence should have an “I” condition)
What are some of the possible defences to Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition?

Defences to this section may include sudden or extraordinary emergency, necessity, duress, impossibility, factual errors and the concept of putting the prosecution to their proof.
 
Fine

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

This offence carries a fine of 30 penalty units (around $4,835) or four months imprisonment as the highest possible sentence. In addition, the court has the option to make orders in relation to the status of your licence.

Many magistrates view this offence as a breaching of the original court order and so treat it very seriously. Repeated offending of this nature will often end in prison sentences unless the context of the offending is explained well to the magistrate.

Cases related to this offence will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition?

This offence is legally defined as the act of breaching the alcohol interlock condition imposed on an accused’s driver’s licence.

Legislation

A breach of an alcohol interlock condition is governed by section 50AAD(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986.

Elements of the offence

Under section 50AAD(1), the prosecution will need to prove that:

  1. The accused had a driver licence or learner permit which was subject to an alcohol interlock condition
  2. The accused breached that condition, or
  3. The accused drove a car with an interlock but the car had been started –
    1. With the approved alcohol interlock disengaged, or
    2. In a way that breached the manufacturer’s instructions for use of the interlock, or
    3. In a way other than the person blowing directly into the appropriate part of the interlock

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Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

There were a total of 2,894 cases of Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition that were heard in Victorian Magistrates’ Courts from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. This involves 3,609 charges that led to a variety of sentences.

Of the 2,894 cases, majority (63.5%) received a financial penalty. The rest of the sentences were: Community Correction Order (15.5%), imprisonment (9.8%), wholly suspended sentence (6.3%), adjourned undertaking/discharge/dismissal (4.0%), partially suspended sentence (0.8%), and other sentencing forms (0.1%)

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.1

Other Important Resources
Case Studies

 


[1] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council
<https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence>