Australia: Drink-drug drivers to face tough new penalties
By Josh Gordon
July 12, 2015
Drivers with drugs and alcohol in their system have until now been charged with either drink-driving or drug-driving, but not both.
Victorians caught driving with a potentially deadly mix of drugs and alcohol in their system will face fines of up to $41,000 and a minimum two-year licence cancellation.
In an Australian first, tough new laws to be introduced by the Andrews government on August 1 will create a separate offence for drink-drug driving.
Under the crackdown, Victoria Police will be able to impound the vehicles of first-time offenders who test positive for drugs and also have a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or higher. First offenders will also face a minimum 12-month licence suspension and fines of up to $4550.
Repeat offenders will face fines of $13,650 to $40,959, depending on their blood-alcohol level and previous convictions. They will also face a minimum two-year licence cancellation – and the prospect of having their cars impounded permanently.
Alcohol interlock devices and driver education programs will also be mandatory for those being relicensed.
There is now no offence for combined drink and drug-driving. Drivers are generally charged with either drink-driving or drug-driving, but not both.
Despite this, drivers with a cocktail of alcohol and drugs in their system are 23 times more likely to involved in fatal crash than drivers who are drug and alcohol-free.
Acting Road Safety Minister Natalie Hutchins said the crackdown would send a strong message about the dangers of combining alcohol with illicit drugs and driving.
“The Andrews Labor government is cracking down on idiotic drink and drug-drivers to make our roads safer and to help reduce road trauma,” Ms Hutchins said. “We are fed up with people who mix alcohol and illicit drugs and the risks they pose to Victorian families on our roads.”
The Coroners Court has estimated drink-driving accounts for between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of deaths and 11 per cent per cent of serious injuries on Victorian roads. Illegal drugs are believed to be a factor in about 20 per cent of all driver deaths.
The state government set aside $15 million in the budget for 10 new drug and booze buses, allowing police to test 100,000 people a year for drugs.