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Curtin University
National Drug Research Institute

Preventing Harmful Drug Use In Australia

Media Release

Date: Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Lack of action costing lives on our roads: Researchers call for commitment on interlocks for repeat drink-drivers

Alcohol researchers are calling for both main parties to commit to prioritising the introduction of legislation tackling the serious problem of repeat drink drivers should they win the forthcoming State election.

Draft legislation, yet to be enacted, includes the introduction of alcohol interlock devices as its core feature. The recommendation for alcohol interlocks was part of a comprehensive package of recommendations put forward to government through the Road Safety Council in 2003.

Alcohol ignition interlocks require the driver to pass a breath test before they can start or continue to drive their vehicle.

Professor Simon Lenton, from the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, said that alcohol ignition interlocks were proven to be one the best deterrents for repeat drink driving offenders.

Research showed that about a third of drink drivers, around 6000 in Western Australia, were repeat offenders and that tougher penalties, such as large fines or licence suspensions, had little effect on this group, many of whom drive at a BAC over 0.15.

Professor Lenton said it was astounding that, ten years on, the Western Australian community was still waiting for alcohol interlocks to be introduced. In 2003 New Mexico implemented an interlock scheme similar to that proposed for WA. In its first six years it reduced road crashes involving alcohol by 31% and fatalities involving alcohol by 35%.

"In the past two weeks both Victoria and Tasmania have announced the introduction of comprehensive alcohol interlock programs for repeat drink drivers. Its high time an alcohol interlock program was put into place in WA to help reduce the alcohol carnage on our roads," he said.

"Alcohol interlocks effectively separate drinking from driving for hard-core, repeat offenders, and stop the rest of us being at risk from their drink driving.

"Each time I see that a repeat drink driver has killed or injured someone on WA roads I see a tragedy that may have been prevented if governments had prioritised implementing the Repeat Drink Driver legislation."

Further Information:

Professor Simon Lenton
Deputy Director, National Drug Research Institute
Curtin University
Phone: 61 (0)8 9266 1603
Mobile: 0417 957 910

Vic Rechichi
Communications Officer, National Drug Research Institute
Curtin University
Phone: 61 (0)8 9266 1627
Mobile: 0414 682 055

Rachael Lobo
Communications Officer, National Drug Research Institute
Curtin University
Phone: 61 (0)8 9266 1627
Mobile: 0400 218831