Alcohol interlocks to become mandatory for drink drivers

The Automobile Association is heralding mandatory alcohol interlocks as one of the most significant blows against drink driving in the New Zealand’s history.

Then-Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss demonstrating the alcohol interlock in August last year.
Photo: RNZ / Benedict Collins

This week, Parliament passed changes to the Land Transport Act which simplifies the law for alcohol interlocks – a kind of in-car breathalyser that will lock the car if alcohol is detected.

AA spokesperson Mike Noon said the devices reduce reoffending by about 60 percent internationally, and would now become mandatory for repeat offenders.

“This sentence requires people to change the way that they are managing alcohol, because if you have alcohol in your system – even if you’re drunk the night before – you won’t be able to start your car the next morning,” he said.

Most people had responded well to the lower blood alcohol limits introduced in 2014, Mr Noon said.

“But we have those people who have problems with alcohol still drinking, still driving.

“We have a terrible statistic at the moment that alcohol is involved in 30 percent of fatalities on our roads.

“This move is a step-change, [and] it’s fantastic to see the government supporting this because it will save many many lives and also help those who have alcohol problems change their lives,” he said.

About 10,000 drink drivers appearing in court each year would be eligible for an interlock under the new rules, he said.

“For the 400 interlocks that were fitted in New Zealand … in 2016, they stopped over 2000 attempts for those drivers trying to drive.”

The interlocks cost about $2000 each, he said.

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