Nsw Drivers Face Bigger Fines, Loss Of Licence Under New Laws

By Ronak


First-time low-range drink-drivers in NSW will be fined $561 and have their licences suspended for three months, while those caught mid-range will have a breath-test device fitted to their car under new legislation before State Parliament.

In NSW, all drink-drivers are required to go before court, so there is no minimum fine, but the average penalty in 2017 for a first-time low-range drink-driver was $482, and $472 for a first-time drug-affected driver.

Under the proposed laws, introduced into Parliament by the Roads Minister Melinda Pavey on Wednesday, the punishments for low-range drink and drug-driving would be handed out on-the-spot. Anyone choosing to fight the low-range charge in court risks facing a maximum penalty of $2200 - double the current maximum penalty a magistrate can impose.

During the three-year period up to June 2017, more than half of the low-range drink-driving first offences recorded no fine or conviction at NSW courts, so on-the-spot fines issued by police would be a better deterrent, Ms Pavey said.

"Police will retain the discretion to issue a court attendance notice if circumstances require it," Ms Pavey told NSW Parliament. Ms Pavey said the new rules were designed to foster "deterrence and behavioural change".

The proposed laws would also mean a driver caught mid-range drink-driving would have an interlock breath-testing device fitted to their car for two years. An interlock is a breath-testing device linked to the ignition system of a vehicle and only permits it to start if the driver passes a breath test.

More than 10,000 NSW drivers were found guilty of low or special range drink-driving between September 2016 and 2017 and about 6000 first-time mid-range drink-drivers are busted each year.

"An added benefit of these initiatives will be the substantial reduction in matters automatically referred to the NSW Local Court, which will reduce pressure on court resources," Ms Pavey said. "Police attendance at court to provide evidence in these types of matters is also expected to be reduced, which will give time back to high visibility, on-road policing."

Mandatory alcohol interlock licence orders are expected to begin by the end of the year for all first-time mid-range drink-drivers, Ms Pavey said.

Since February 2015, over 6900 interlock orders have been issued to high-range or repeat drink-drivers. The locks cost about $180 to install, have ongoing servicing fees and usually have a $100 removal fee.

Numberplate confiscation, vehicle impoundment or total forfeiture may also apply if a mid-range drink-driver is caught twice within a five-year period. These penalties are usually issued for high-range speeding, racing, burnouts or police pursuits and cannot currently be applied to any drink-driving offence.

"Studies have found an increase in crash risk of around four times at the lower end of middle range up to 0.08 blood alcohol content [BAC] compared with unimpaired driving," Ms Pavey said. "At the high end, near 0.15 BAC, the crash risk rises steeply to around 12 times. "Fifty-five people lost their lives to drink-driving in 2017 and another 81 died in crashes involving a driver with an illicit drug in their system."

Most of the changes are expected to begin in May 2019 if passed into law.




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