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One in three WA motorists breach drink-drive technology

The use of alcohol interlocks to keep serial drink-drivers off the road will be reviewed in WA, as damning new figures show one in three drivers are breaching the program.

A total of 969 “interlock restricted licences” — where people convicted of repeat or serious drink-driving offences can continue to drive if they have a breath-testing immobiliser fitted in their car — have been issued since new laws came into effect in October 2016.

But the latest Department of Transport data reveals 317 drivers, or almost one in every three, have breached the interlock program, most by trying to drive after drinking and failing the breath test.

Other reasons for breaching the program included missing scheduled interlock device inspections, losing their authorisation to drive due to other road offences, or trying to tamper with or circumvent the device.

Police and Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts said the breach rate was “far too high and plainly unacceptable”.

She will now order a review of the program.

“I’ve asked the Road Safety Commission to conduct a thorough evaluation of the scheme with the Department of Transport,” she said.

Of the 969 interlock restricted licences issued since 2016, 571 are current. Drivers must pay about $1600 from their own pocket to have the device installed in their car.

Mrs Roberts said although the fail rate was high, alcohol interlocks were keeping dangerous drivers off the road.

“The program is identifying problem drivers, restricting their ability to drive and channelling them into appropriate treatment programs,” she said.

“These drivers clearly have a problem with alcohol, and I don’t want my or any other family sharing the roads with them.”

Studies of international interlock programs show a reduction of more than 60 per cent in drink-driving rates.

In WA, the program applies to anyone convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.15, or a second drink-driving offence of any kind within five years.

After serving a licence ban they must install the breath test machine in their car, which prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has a blood-alcohol reading above 0.02. They must stick to the strict conditions for at least six months.

Breaches result in the driver having to restart the six-month program

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