Drunk driver lock-out devices

Alcohol-activated locks which prevent drink-drivers from starting their car will soon be mandatory for repeat offenders in New Zealand – finally! The Minister of Transport has confirmed that anyone convicted of two or more offences within five years will have one of the locks installed in their car and anyone caught driving with a reading of more than 3 times the legal alcohol limit would also get a sentence which required one of the devices – it’s a great start of course, but won’t stop them driving someone else’s car unfortunately. Alternatively, a drunk driver could simply get a sober person to start the car for them – they’d be a stupid sober person, but it could easily be done.
It’s also disconcerting to hear that now these devices can be mandated, it could affect up to 5000 kiwi drivers a year! The good news is that the driver will cover the costs of the breathalyser device, however Government subsidies will be available too which seems somewhat ironic, and around $4 million in funding for the interlock scheme has been budgeted.
The interlock is wired into the vehicle’s ignition and any breath-alcohol reading higher than zero will activate the lock. It’s claimed that interlocks reduce reoffending rates by around 60 per cent – that would be a welcome result. NZ statistics currently are very poor and drunk drivers cause carnage on our roads every year including a high proportion of car accidents. Last year 77 road deaths were caused by drunk drivers, almost a third of all car accident fatalities, as well as almost 450 crash related injuries. There are approximately 5000 REPEAT drink driving offenses each year, so any reduction will be welcome and the alcohol interlocks will be a good start.

RECENT CASESAlcohol activated breathaliser lockout
Driver, 17, caught five times over the breath-alcohol limit with his 10-month old son in the car in Hamilton East.
55 year-old woman on zero alcohol license caught five times over the breath-alcohol limit in Kaitaia. Sentenced to four months’ home detention.
West Coast man, 56, sentenced to five months’ jail after being convicted of his seventh drink-driving offence. In his most recent case, he was caught four times over the limit.

3 Responses

  1. Villi
    | Reply

    this is a very good idea. I think every car should have one any way. Why wait for the problem first. I see a lot of car accidents on the road mostly from speeding and bad driving . Drinking and drugs should get tested every day for professional drivers and these lock out machines will stop the problem totally.

  2. Ian Harris
    | Reply

    Good coverage about this life-saving device. I understand use is widespread globally and it’s time NZ caught up with this technology. It would seem timely that fleet services managers lead the way particularly in the context of the increased health & safety environment this year, fleet operators need to step up to their responsibilities to drivers too and these devices would be a tangible commitment to that. No doubt the ripple effect would cut down on corporate hospitality spend as well. Probably won’t be popular with everyone then!

  3. Terri
    | Reply

    Great suggestion Ian. I think all responsible fleet managers would agree. Cost is minimal and no impediment to this potentially transformation device, and would deliver quantifiable driver safety improvements for all road users.

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