What is an Alcohol Interlock device?

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The Flux Capacitor was not an early form of the Alcohol Interlock Device: "TeamTimeCar.com-BTTF DeLorean Time Machine-OtoGodfrey.com-JMortonPhoto.com-06" by Terabass - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The Flux Capacitor was not an early form of the Alcohol Interlock Device: “TeamTimeCar.com-BTTF DeLorean Time Machine-OtoGodfrey.com-JMortonPhoto.com-06” by Terabass – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Alcohol Interlock Program is where a court orders that a person (a driver) install an Interlock Device on their motor vehicle. Section 44 of the Road Transport Act says that an Interlock Device is a device designed to:

  1. analyse a breath sample for the presence of alcohol; and
  2. prevent a motor vehicle from being started if it detects more than a certain concentration of alcohol.

In simple terms it a breath analysis device fitted to your car ignition. The device is designed so that the car will not start unless a person (by law the driver) blows into the device and the device shows a reading lower than a certain concentration of alcohol. The prescribed concentration will depend on the terms of the Interlock order.

Naturally the question arises, can’t the system be ‘tricked’ by having a person who hasn’t been drinking blow into the device? To do so is unlawful but practically, the answer is yes. However whilst sometimes the law is an ass it is not so easily fooled. The device can randomly require the driver to provide another breath sample into the device through the course of any trip. If the required reading is not delivered, the driver is stuck wherever he or she may be.

The person on whom the order is made is required to pay the costs of the device, including both the installation and the leasing of the device. These are estimated by NSW RMS to be about $2,200 (two thousand two hundred dollars) per year. Certain concession card holders are entitled to a discount and financial assistance is available in certain circumstances.