Alcohol interlock program penalising the poor: lawyer

THE alcohol interlock device which repeat drink-drivers must install is penalising people with limited funds, according to a leading lawyer.

Motorists who have a blood alcohol content of 0.15%, drive dangerously while under the influence or are convicted of two or more offences in five years are forced to install the device, which prevents the car from starting unless the driver has a zero BAC.

It costs about $2000 to be a part of the program for a period determined by Queensland Transport and Main Roads, with a maximum of two years.

Milburns Law principal John Milburn said the program was not too harsh but it had a huge financial impact.

"If people have the money, then I can understand the rationale behind the program," he said.

"If you have people who simply don't have the money, rely on their licence for their health or their children or to make a basic income, it can have a dramatic effect on them because they simply can't afford the interlock program.

"We're penalising those people who have limited funds.

"If people can't afford the device a licence disqualification of two years is imposed.

"They simply have to ride out that period of time."

A Transport and Main Roads representative said the program was designed to stop repeat offenders.

"A repeat drink-driver at any level has demonstrated through their second conviction that they have not learned from their earlier conviction to separate drinking and driving," he said.

"A clear relationship exists between a person's BAC level and crash risk."

Mr Milburn also said it shouldn't be up to TMR to determine the sentence.

"I have a problem with any form of mandatory sentencing where the discretion of the court has been removed," he said.

He said people could be charged with a drink-driving offence when they're sitting in a car.

"They might have gone out to use the cigarette lighter or listen to music but it's still a drink-driving offence," he said.

During 2012, there were 280 fatalities as a result of crashes within Queensland.

Of those, 45 were as a result of drink driving or riding.

Do you think the alcohol interlock program is too harsh?

This poll ended on 04 December 2013.

Yes - 19%

No - 80%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  court crime lawyer tmr

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