An alcohol interlock is a device that measures and records the amount of alcohol on the driver’s breath. It prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking alcohol.
The device is fitted to a vehicle and the driver must blow into it before starting the vehicle. The vehicle will not start if there is alcohol on the driver’s breath.
When an alcohol interlock is used
Your vehicle will be fitted with an interlock if:
- your licence was cancelled for drink driving
- when the cancellation period ended, the magistrate or VicRoads lets you get another licence on the condition that you have an interlock fitted to your vehicle for a period of time.
Note: Drivers who are caught drink driving after 30 September 2014 and who are disqualified from driving will only be able to get a licence on the condition that they have an interlock fitted to their vehicle for at least six months.
Alcohol interlock exemption on medical grounds
From 1 October 2014, a driver will be able to apply for an interlock exemption from VicRoads. The person will need to get a report from a registered specialist health practitioner giving details about why their health condition means that they will not be able to use an alcohol interlock. Drivers who are exempt must still have zero BAC when they are driving.
VicRoads may require the person to be tested to see if they are fit to drive at all.
Getting an interlock removed
Most drivers must go to court to get the interlock removed. You need to do the following three things before you can get the interlock removed.
Apply to court for a hearing
You have to return to court for a hearing where you can ask the magistrate to make an alcohol interlock condition removal order. Go to your nearest Magistrates’ Court to apply for this hearing. Do this at least six weeks before the interlock period ends.
The court will set a date for a hearing. This date will be after the interlock period ends.
Get an assessment report
Contact the driver education agency as soon as you get a court date. The agency will do a licence eligibility report. This report will cover all of the time when you had an interlock fitted. It includes:
- reports by all of the agencies that have supplied and serviced your interlock. The reports will assess how well you stuck to the order
- records of any time you tried to start your vehicle when alcohol was detected by the interlock.
The education agency will interview you before they write this report.
Talk with the police
The police will interview you before your hearing. Contact your local police station at least 28 days before the hearing to make an appointment.
Drivers who are caught drink driving after 30 September 2014 who applied to VicRoads for a licence, will be able to return directly to VicRoads to have the interlock condition removed.
Do you need a lawyer?
Many people represent themselves in these sorts of cases. You can also choose to pay a private lawyer to represent you. Victoria Legal Aid does not represent people going to court to ask for an interlock to be removed.
How the magistrate makes a decision
Getting the interlock device removed is not automatic. The magistrate will look at the evidence from the agency reports and from the police. The magistrate could also ask for evidence from a doctor.
The magistrate will make their decision based on:
- how much alcohol you drink now
- whether your driving is a risk to the safety of the public or to yourself
- what is in the agency assessment report.
The magistrate will not make an alcohol interlock condition removal order and will keep the interlock on your vehicle for longer if:
- you did not follow the rules of the alcohol interlock order
- the magistrate thinks you will drink and drive again.
If you get an alcohol interlock condition removal order
Get a copy of the order from court. Go to a VicRoads Customer Service Centre to have the interlock condition removed from your licence. Then take your vehicle to your interlock service agent to have the interlock removed.
Can you appeal if you don’t get an alcohol interlock removal order?
You cannot appeal to the County Court if the magistrate refuses to give you an alcohol interlock removal order.
You may be able to appeal to the Supreme Court if the magistrate did not correctly use their discretion. This appeal is hard to win and could be expensive.
It is probably quicker, cheaper and easier to apply for another alcohol interlock removal order hearing. You need to think about the reasons the magistrate gave for refusing the order and do what they said before applying again.
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