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. From 1 October 2014, it is mandatory for the Court to impose an alcohol interlock condition on a licence for all drink driving offences committed on or after this date regardless of the BAC reading.
A breach of alcohol interlock condition is governed by section 50AAD(1)(a) of the Road Safety Act 1986.
This offence carries a fine of 30 penalty units (around $4,200) 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. Cases related to this offence will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court. The most recent statistics available in the State of Victoria recorded 2,179 cases related to this offence where people were sentenced from July 2011 to June 2014.
Elements of the charge of ‘Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition’
The elements of this offence are:
- The accused has a driver licence or permit which is subject to a alcohol interlock condition; and
- The accused breached the condition.
Defending this type of charge
Cases related to this offence may be defended on basis such as sudden or extraordinary emergency, necessity, duress, impossibility, factual errors and the concept of putting the prosecution to their proof.
Statutory defence under s. 50AAD: “It is a defence if the person proves that he or she reasonably believed at the time of the breach that the type of alcohol interlock was an approved alcohol interlock, or the person or body was an approved alcohol interlock supplier whose approval was in force or authorised by such supplier as the case may be.”
Many Magistrates view Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition 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.
Possible Defences for Breach Alcohol Interlock Condition
- Concept of Beyond Reasonable Doubt
- Factual Dispute
- Sudden or Extraordinary Emergency