The Hon Terry Mulder MP
Minister for Roads
Minister for Public Transport
Victorians caught behind the wheel with a cocktail of alcohol and illicit drugs in their systems face hefty fines and other penalties, with legislation creating a new offence for combined drink-drug driving about to be introduced into Parliament.
Announcing the penalties for the new offence at the inaugural Towards Zero road safety symposium, Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said tackling the menace of drink and drug driving was a key priority in the Victorian Coalition Government’s Road Safety Action Plan.
“Research shows drivers or riders with both alcohol and illicit drugs in their system are, on average, 23 times more likely to be killed in a crash than those without,” Mr Mulder said.
“They’re also more likely to cause their crash than people with just alcohol in their system.”
Mr Mulder said that Victorians caught driving with alcohol and illicit drugs in their system will face a minimum 12 month licence cancellation, court fines up to $4,330 for a first offence and the immediate impoundment of their vehicles.
For repeat offenders, the maximum fines will range between $12,992 and $38,977, depending on BAC level and number of previous offences.
Mr Mulder said the tough new penalties will be introduced into Parliament this month and come into effect from mid-2015, making Victoria one of few jurisdictions in the world to create a separate offence for this high risk activity.
“We make no apologies for taking tougher action in relation to these drug and alcohol affected drivers because of the increased danger they pose to our community,” Mr Mulder said.
“As there is no combined offence currently, offenders are generally only charged with, or convicted of, either a drink driving or a drug-driving offence, but not both. We’ve set the maximum fines for this new combined offence at 50 per cent higher than the maximum fines for drink driving.
The new offence will apply to drivers/riders with alcohol (at illegal levels) and one or more of three prescribed illicit drugs in their systems (ie speed, ecstasy or cannabis) as detected through current enforcement methods including breath, saliva and blood tests.
Mr Mulder said the Coalition Government was also introducing legislation so that first drink drive offenders with BAC levels of 0.10 or more may have their vehicles immediately impounded by police for 30 days.
Currently, immediate impoundment laws for drink driving offences only apply to repeat drink drivers with BACs of 0.10 or more.
“Not only will high range drink drivers face losing their licences immediately, they’ll also face immediate loss of their vehicles through impoundment or immobilisation and tougher financial penalties,” Mr Mulder said.
“The Coalition Government promised aggressive and effective new measures to penalise people who recklessly flout our road rules, potentially killing innocent people on our roads, and we are well and truly delivering.
“If you are stupid enough to drink and take drugs and then get behind the wheel, you will pay in more ways than one. This is about cracking down to stop people doing stupid things that could kill or really hurt someone else.”
Drivers caught with a combination of alcohol and illicit drugs in their system face the following penalties, which will come into effect from mid-2015:
– First offence – maximum fine of 30 penalty units/$4,330*
– Repeat offenders – maximum fines ranging from $12,992 to $38,977
(Maximum fines for the combined offence will be 50 per cent higher than the maximum for drink driving alone and at least 50 per cent higher than the maximum for drug-driving alone)
– Licence suspension/disqualification from driving
– All offenders will have their licence cancelled for a minimum of 12 months
– Longer minimum disqualification periods apply for offences involving higher blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) levels or for repeat offenders
– Vehicle impoundment
All drivers caught with a BAC of 0.10 or more face the possibility of having their vehicle immediately impounded or immobilised by Police for a period of 30 days, including first time offenders – second offenders may also have their vehicle immediately impounded or immobilised for 30 days, plus additional time applied by the Courts.
– Alcohol interlocks
– Upon relicensing, offender is required to drive a vehicle with an alcohol interlock
– Requirement to complete a driver education program
– He or she may lose some or all entitlements to some compensation payments based on the driver’s blood/breath alcohol concentration
(*penalty unit as at May 2014 is $144.36)