ACT's Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program commenced on 17 June 2014 to combat drink driving in the ACT. Offenders with high range BAC and repeat offenders will be required to install an alcohol interlock to their vehicle as a condition of re-licencing to demonstrate that they can separate their drinking from driving before they can have the I condition removed from their licence. High risk drivers will also be required to participate in treatment or programs ordered by the Magistrates Court.
Other, lower risk, drink driving offenders will have the option of participating in the interlock program during their driving disqualification period but they will also be required to demonstrate a period of clean driving before they can exit the interlock program.
For further information continue to the FAQ section.
Program Violation Chart
|Type of Violation||Violation Limit||Violation trigger Point|
|Initial Test violation||255||0.020 BAC on attempted start|
|Rolling Re-Test Violation||1||0.020 BAC on rolling re-test|
|Skipped Rolling Retest||1||Failing to provide test within 5 minutes|
|Circumvention||1||Starting or by-passing device without taking a test|
*Once violation limits have been reached the unit will display 7 day count down. You must return for an unscheduled service within the 7 day period or the device will permanently lock and you will require an unlock code. A maximum of 3 unlock codes can be issued per service period. The vehicle will need to be towed after that.
You will need to contact head office for issue of the unlock code.
Random Re-Test Schedule
- you will be required to provide a breath sample in the first 5 to 5 minutes of the vehicle starting
- you will be required to provide subsequent samples at random times ranging from 15 to 60 minutes after the first Re-test
- You are required to provide a breath sample every time the device requests a test, even if you have reached your destination and you turn the vehicle off.
Frequently asked questions about Alcohol Interlocks ACT
Q: What is an alcohol ignition interlock?
An alcohol interlock is an electronic breath testing device wired into the ignition of a vehicle which requires the driver to blow an alcohol free breath sample into the device before the vehicle will start.
Q: Why are interlocks being introduced?
The primary purpose of the interlock program is to reduce the road safety risk posed by drink drivers to themselves and other road users by preventing the driver from starting, or continuing to operate, a vehicle fitted with an interlock device if the driver has a specified blood concentration of alcohol present in his or her breath. Research has shown interlocks are effective in preventing further drink driving offences and alcohol-related crashes.
Q: Who does the interlock program apply to?
From 17 June 2014, if you are convicted or found guilty of an alcohol-related disqualifying offence:
- of exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol (a BAC offence and your BAC was 0.15g or more; or
- of refusing to provide a breath or blood sample related to alcohol; or
- at the time of conviction or finding of guilt you had been convicted of 2 or more alcohol-related disqualifying offences within the previous 5 years;
and you are disqualified from driving, you will be subject to an interlock condition on your probationary driver licence but not before you have served at least half of your period of driver licence disqualification.
A probationary licence with a mandatory interlock condition cannot be issued until half your disqualification period has been served. A probationary licence cannot be issued if you are otherwise disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence or if you have failed to comply with any treatment, referral or monitoring under a court-ordered therapeutic program, which the court ordered you to complete before a probationary licence can be issued. Information about court ordered therapeutic programs is provided later in this document.
If you are convicted of a BAC offence and do not meet the conditions for a mandatory interlock licence condition, you can elect to apply for a probationary licence with a voluntary interlock condition immediately the court imposes a disqualification period, provided you are not otherwise disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence.
Q: What is the process for obtaining a probationary licence with an interlock condition?
Once you are eligible to apply to participate in the interlock program you must complete the Application for a Probationary Licence with an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Condition form and present it to the Road Transport Authority (RTA).
You must nominate the vehicle in which the interlock device is to be installed. If there is more than one registered operator for the nominated vehicle, all registered operators must sign the form agreeing to an interlock being installed in the vehicle.
Once the RTA is satisfied that you are eligible for the interlock program it will issue you with a probationary licence with an interlock ‘I’ condition and a copy of the application form. Once you have decided which approved Interlock Supplier you will use, you will need to show the form, indicating your nominated vehicle to the approved Interlock Supplier before they will supply you with an interlock under your agreement with the supplier (Interlock Driver Agreement).
Note that you are not able to drive the nominated vehicle until the interlock has been installed and you have received personal and comprehensive training on the correct and safe use of the interlock device and have been provided with a user guide on the operation, servicing requirements and functionality of the interlock device.
Q: What are the costs?
Smart Start Interlocks is required to make publicly available the fees and charges for services provided to interlock drivers, including costs associated with installation, leasing, servicing and removal of the interlock.
Typically, the costs for the minimum six month interlock period would be approximately $1200 (for installation, monthly servicing and removal of the interlock). For each subsequent 12 months on the program costs would be approximately $1800 (for monthly servicing). These estimated costs do not include any concessions for which you may be able to apply.
There may also be additional costs for unscheduled servicing and lockouts, if you breach the compliance requirements of the interlock program.
You should understand the costs that will apply to you before you enter into a signed service agreement (Interlock Driver Agreement) with the interlock supplier of your choice.
Q: Are there any discounts available?
You may be eligible for a 35% discount on installation, monthly servicing and removal costs if you hold a current and valid Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs concession card.
Q: Is any other financial assistance available?
No. Beyond the discounts mentioned above for costs related to the installation, maintenance and removal of the interlock device, there are no further cost reductions.
Q: How long will I have to be part of the interlock program?
The interlock period ends 6 months from the date the interlock condition is imposed or at the end of the disqualification period, whichever is the later. The interlock period will be extended if breaches of the interlock conditions occur in the final 3 months of the interlock period. The final 3 months must be free of breaches for the interlock condition to be removed from the probationary licence.
Q: What compliance requirements must I meet to have the interlock condition removed at the end of the interlock period?
For the RTA to remove the interlock condition from a licence at the end of the interlock period it must be satisfied that in the final three months of the interlock period none of the following has occurred:
- you drove a motor vehicle other than the vehicle nominated to the RTA, and fitted with an approved interlock;
- you drove a nominated vehicle without first providing a sample of your breath to the interlock;
- you drove a nominated vehicle when you knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the vehicle’s interlock was not operating properly or had been interfered with, eg. battery disconnection of more than 20 minutes or the device has been tampered with;
- you committed an interlock period breach - ie:
- by providing a BACsample of 0.02g or more; or
- by providing more than 1 BAC sample of more than 0g but less than 0.02g; or
- by failing to provide a breath sample when required eg. running test.
If the RTA is not satisfied that none of these events occurred in the final three months of your interlock period, the interlock period will be extended until the RTA is satisfied that for a consecutive three month period, none of these events have occurred.
Q: What restrictions apply to me when in the program?
While on the interlock program the following restrictions apply:
- you must hold a valid probationary licence that has an 'I' condition on it;
- you must only drive a vehicle that you have nominated to the RTA and that has an approved interlock installed by one of the approved interlock suppliers listed in this document;
- you must have no alcohol (BAC 0.00) in your system at all times while driving.
Q: What penalties apply for not following the rules of the program?
Penalties apply for not following the rules of the interlock program.
If you contravene the condition of your licence that you must only drive a nominated vehicle fitted with an interlock you may face prosecution for contravening this interlock condition. The maximum penalty for the offence is $7,000, 6 months imprisonment, or both.
In addition, if convicted by a court, the interlock licence is automatically cancelled unless the court orders otherwise.
If the licence is cancelled, you may be disqualified from applying for, or being issued with, another driver licence with an interlock condition for the remainder of the disqualification period.
It is also an offence to tamper with an interlock.
Q: When can the interlock be removed?
You will be reminded by the RTA, when the final three months of your interlock period is approaching, about the compliance requirements for the RTA to remove the ‘I’ condition from your licence. Your interlock supplier will provide the RTA with reports of your compliance with the interlock program conditions over this period. The RTA’s decision to remove the ‘I’ condition will be based on this and any other relevant information.
Before you can drive without an interlock you will need to obtain a replacement licence from the RTA, with the ‘I’ condition removed.
Q: How do I nominate a vehicle to install the interlock in?
You will need to complete the Application for a Probationary Licence with an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Condition formwith your vehicle details and present this to the RTA for processing.
If there is more than one registered operator for the nominated vehicle, all registered operators must sign the relevant section of the form agreeing to an interlock being installed in the vehicle.
Q: Can I drive a vehicle that already has an interlock installed?
If you wish to drive a vehicle that already has an approved interlock installed, before nominating this vehicle, you will need to make arrangements with the interlock supplier who originally installed the interlock and the existing user of the interlock for any agreement about using this interlock.
Q: What rules apply when more than one driver uses the same interlock?
The RTA must be aware which driver is using the interlock at any point in time. This will require the use of technology, such as a camera, capable of identifying which driver is responsible for matters recorded by the interlock, eg providing a breath sample containing alcohol.
The Interlock Supplier will not enter into a interlock driver agreement with an interlock driver if that interlock driver’s nominated vehicle is already fitted with an interlock used by other interlock driver/s, unless a separate arrangement is in place between the Interlock Supplier and each of the interlock drivers and each of the interlock drivers agree to the multiple driver arrangement.
Where an additional interlock driver is to be linked to an existing interlock device being used by another interlock driver, the Interlock Supplier will give notice of this arrangement to all existing interlock drivers using that interlock device at the commencement of that arrangement.
The Interlock Supplier will notify the RTA of the commencement, amendment or termination of arrangements applying to multiple interlock drivers.
Q: I drive a company vehicle and have to go on the interlock program – what do I do?
If you drive a company vehicle you will need to gain your employer’s permission for an interlock to be installed in the vehicle so that you can legally drive that vehicle.
Q: Can I install my own interlock?
No you cannot buy and install your own interlock. You will need to enter into an agreement (Interlock Driver Agreement) with one of the suppliers listed in this document for the installation of the interlock in your nominated vehicle.
Q: Can interlocks be installed in any vehicle?
Interlocks can be installed in most vehicles with an ignition; this includes cars, trucks and motorcycles.
Q: Can other people who are not part of the interlock program drive the vehicle with an interlock installed?
Yes. A vehicle with an interlock installed may be driven by other drivers, such as family members. These drivers will need to provide a breath sample in order to start the vehicle. Regardless of whether these drivers are legally subject to the general alcohol limit (under 0.05) they will be required to drive with no alcohol in their system (0.00) in order to start and drive the vehicle.
If another driver attempts to start the vehicle and the interlock records alcohol in their breath sample the vehicle will not start and the attempt will be recorded by the interlock as a breach. As this breach will be recorded by your interlock it is important that you ensure that other drivers are aware of this and that you take steps to prevent such an event from occurring. It is important that other users of your interlock are trained in how to use it.
YOU WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL EVENTS RECORDED ON YOUR INTERLOCK SUCH AS BREACHES WHICH DISQUALIFY YOU FROM EXITING THE INTERLOCK PROGRAM.
If other drivers will use your nominated vehicle, you may wish to consider utilising camera technology, which is available from interlock suppliers, in order to establish the identity of any other driver responsible for recording breaches on your interlock. Back to
Q: Are interlocks reliable?
Interlock technology has been available for over 30 years and is considered to be reliable and accurate. Interlocks approved for use in the ACT interlock program must be certified to the relevant Australian standard.
Q: Is it possible to bypass or tamper with the interlock?
There are a number of measures in place to ensure that the interlock cannot be bypassed by having another person start the vehicle for the interlock driver. These include:
- additional retesting required after the vehicle has been started and the person has been driving for a few minutes
- a certain volume of breath needed to pass the breath test (so children cannot provide a breath sample)
- training required for all nominated people who will be using the vehicle.These measures are in place to ensure that the interlock driver is meeting the requirements of the program.
The interlocks that are approved for use in the ACT incorporate a range of features to reduce the possibility of anyone circumventing the interlock. The interlock’s internal memory records the number of breath tests conducted, the results of all breath tests, and so on.
Interlock service providers are trained to inspect the interlock and associated vehicle wiring to identify any attempts to tamper with the operation of the interlock. Any suspected cases of tampering will be reported to the RTA by the service providers.
Q: What is the alcohol limit I need to have while driving?
If you are in the interlock program, as a probationary licence holder with an ‘I’ condition on your licence you must have no alcohol in your system (0.00) before you start the vehicle and during driving. You will be required to take additional breath-tests while driving.
Q: What happens if I fail the breath test when using the interlock?
If the interlock registers alcohol in your breath it records a ‘fail’ and the ignition is locked. You will be able to do another breath test after a short period of time.
Every time the interlock registers alcohol in your breath it registers a ‘fail’.
Q: Do I have to have the interlock serviced?
Yes. As part of the interlock agreement with your chosen alcohol interlock supplier, regular scheduled servicing will be required. You will be required to present the nominated vehicle for the interlock to be serviced every 30 days at an approved service centre established in the ACT or Queanbeyan. At these services, data from the interlock - a “performance report” - will be downloaded and provided to you and to the RTA. In most cases the report will be emailed to you shortly after it is downloaded.
If you have any queries about the data you should contact your interlock supplier or the RTA.
If you do not attend a scheduled service of your interlock device it will permanently lockout the vehicle.
It is not a requirement that you drive the vehicle and attend the interlock service in person. If for any reason you cannot provide the vehicle for its scheduled service, such as you are travelling or on holidays, you must arrange for an alternative servicing date prior to the expiration of your current service period.
Q: I live interstate but have been charged with an alcohol related offence in the ACT, what does this mean for me?
All Australian jurisdictions, apart from Western Australia, operate alcohol ignition interlock programs. If you have been charged with one of the alcohol related offences in ACT that requires you to be part of the interlock program but you are licensed in another state, then the decision as to whether you will be part of an interlock program will be up to the licensing authority in that state.
If you wish to obtain an ACT driver licence at any time in the future, you will need to contact the RTA for advice on whether you need to undertake an alcohol and drug awareness course www.justice.act.gov.au/safety_and_emergency/road_safety or undergo a therapeutic program. Therapeutic program details can be obtained at www.health.act.gov.au/health-services/mental-health-justice-health-alcohol-drug-services/programs/alcohol-drug-service/diversion-services
Q: I am required to use an interlock in my home state. I'm moving to the ACT - what do I do?
If you move to the ACT from interstate and have an interlock requirement imposed in that state you will be subject to ACT’s interlock program when you transfer your licence. You will be issued with a licence with an ‘I’ condition and will have to comply with the requirements of the program. The process for obtaining an ACT licence with an ‘I’ condition is set out earlier in this document.
The interlock period that will be applied to you will be the later of:
- the day the interlock period would have ended if you had remained on the interstate licence subject to an interlock condition;
- six months after the day the interstate interlock licence condition was imposed; or
- three months after the day the ACT probationary licence is issued.
If you have an interstate installed interlock in your vehicle you will need to check with the RTA about whether your arrangements meet the requirements of the ACT interlock scheme. If the interlock device and or the interlock supplier are not approved for the ACT interlock program, you will need to have the interlock removed and obtain approval from the RTA to have an approved ACT interlock device installed in your (nominated) vehicle. You will also need to enter into an agreement with an ACT approved interlock supplier for the installation, rental, servicing and removal costs of the new interlock.
Q: Are any interlock exemptions available?
Yes. In special circumstances a person may be exempted from the requirements of the interlock program. You may be eligible for an exemption from driving a vehicle installed with an interlock if you:
- have a medical condition that prevents you from providing the required volume of breath to operate the interlock. (Note: For an exemption on the basis of a medical condition you will need to have your doctor complete a Medical Certificate for Interlock Exemption Application form and provide this to the RTA when applying for a probationary licence under the interlock program to enable it to make a decision on whether to grant an exemption.
- have extenuating circumstances that impact on your ability to reasonably use an interlock. This is more than just an inconvenience - the circumstances must be unduly burdensome for you or your family. An interlock exemption will not be granted solely because you are unable to install the interlock for employment reasons.
Q: What conditions apply to an interlock exemption?
If you have an interlock exemption you must:
- obey all conditions stated on the exemption certificate;
- produce the exemption certificate for inspection when requested by a police officer;
- notify the RTA in writing of any changes to your personal situation that may affect your eligibility for the exemption not later than 7 days of the change occurring.
Q: Do other Australian jurisdictions have interlock programs?
Yes, all other jurisdictions, except WA, now have programs.
Q: Do I need to undergo a health assessment before attending court?
If it is mandatory that you participate in the interlock program, prior to being sentenced you need to undergo an assessment by the Police and Court Drug Diversion Service, Alcohol and Drug Service (ADS), ACT Health. This assessment will make recommendations to the court regarding treatment or programs that are suitable for you. You can voluntarily undergo an assessment before attending court through contact with the Court Alcohol and Drug Assessment Service (CADAS) on the ADS intake line 62079977.
It is expected that, in most cases, it will be recommended to the court will that you undertake four one-on-one counselling sessions which will be free and provided by ACT Health.
The counselling sessions will involve assessment, referral and therapeutic intervention tailored to your individual needs. The counselling sessions include but are not limited to a focus on education and strategies to reduce problematic alcohol use. They include scope for referral to other treatment services for ongoing support for alcohol and other drug problems. More information about the therapeutic program can be found at www.health.act.gov.au/health-services/mental-health-justice-health-alcohol-drug-services/programs/alcohol-drug-service/diversion-services"
Q: Do I need to attend an alcohol awareness course if I have undergone a court ordered therapeutic program?
No. If you are required to undergo court-ordered treatment or a program you are exempt from the requirement to participate in an alcohol awareness course. Drink drivers who are not ordered by the court to undergo treatment or a program will need to complete an alcohol and drug awareness course.
Q:Who needs to attend an alcohol awareness course?
People who commit a drink or drug driving offence and are convicted or found guilty by a court, unless exempted, will be required to complete a mandatory alcohol and drug awareness course in order to regain or retain their driving licence.
Alcohol and drug awareness courses are designed to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol and drugs, including their effects on driving and health. To ensure that the rehabilitation and therapeutic needs of different offenders are accommodated two types of course are available. The person must attend the type of course that is approved for the type of offence of which they were convicted or found guilty.
To be eligible for an exemption from completing an alcohol and drug awareness course, a person must demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist which justify the exemption.
For information about the ACT interlock program and alcohol and drug awareness courses and how to enrol, visit:
www.justice.act.gov.au/safety_and_emergency/road_safety or contact Transport Regulation on 62077122.
Q: I have more questions. Who do I talk to?
For enquiries regarding the interlock devices, contact Smart Start Interlocks.
For enquiries regarding the interlock program, contact Transport Regulation on 62077122.
For enquiries about health assessments and therapeutic programs, contact the Court Alcohol and Drug Assessment Service (CADAS) on the ADS Intake line 62079977.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact your local service agent or call 1300 BLOW 00 (1300 256 900).
In all EMERGENCY situations please call 1300 BLOW 00 (1300 256 900).