Victorian drink-driving penalties to get tougher

Proposed changes to Victorian drink-driving laws would see first-time offenders lose their licence for three months.
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Anyone caught driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) between 0.05 and 0.069 face licence cancellation and disqualification for three months, while all drivers caught over the 0.05 limit will be forced to have an alcohol interlock fitted to their cars for six months.

All drink-drivers will also have to complete a 'new behaviour change program' before being given their license back.

According to the Victorian State Government, up to 3000 fully-licensed drivers are caught with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.07 every year. Research quoted by the State Government also says license disqualifications cut drink-driving recidivism rates by 70 per cent, and reduce crashes by 79 per cent.

“We make no apologies for toughening penalties for drink-drivers who continue to put the lives of Victorians at risk with their dangerous behaviour” said Victorian minister for roads and transport, Luke Donnellan.

“Drink-driving at any level is incredibly dangerous – even at 0.05, drink-drivers double their chances of crashing, risking not only their lives but the lives of others.”

According to Rebekah Smith, manager for road user behaviour at the RACV, the changes are a step towards safer roads in Victoria.

"RACV supports stricter penalties for those who drink drive, and the Government’s latest announcement addresses RACV’s previous calls to expand the alcohol ignition lock program," she said.

"That being said, RACV also believes such measures need to be undertaken as part of a holistic approach to ensure they work and that structures are in place including court processes and alcohol rehabilitation programs."

Along with the drink driving changes, proposed changes to the Road Safety Act (1986) will allow Victoria Police more freedom to end pursuits using a "range of new devices".

Anyone caught driving without a licence or employing an unlicensed driver will face tougher penalties than before, and drivers caught under the influence of drugs will have their licence cancelled for six months – double the current penalty.