New proposed drink driving laws announced

The Queensland Government has recently announced a number of significant reforms to Queensland drink-driving laws which will be introduced from the middle of 2011. These laws have been developed following statewide consultions with a number of stakeholders, including experts and the general public.
The new initiatives to be introduced are as follows:

  • Immediately suspending a person’s licence if they are found to be driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% or above. This is a reduction from the current level of 0.15%.
  • Increasing the maximum time allowed to obtain a breath/blood specimen for drink-driving offences from two to three hours. This gives the police a longer period of time to test suspected drink-drivers.
  • Allowing the arresting/detaining officer to also conduct the breath analysis for drink-driving offences. Currently, the arresting/detaining officer cannot be the same officer who carries out the breath test on the arrested or detained person.

The Government is also considering a number of further initiatives which may be implemented at a later stage. These include the following:

  • Compulsory blood testing for drivers attending hospital for examination or treatment as a result of motor vehicle crashes.
  • Excluding all drink-driving offenders who have been convicted of a drink-driving offence with a BAC greater than or equal to 0.10% from being eligible for a work licence.
  • Increasing the initial vehicle impoundment period to longer than 48 hours.
  • Extending vehicle impoundment and forfeiture to any repeat drink-driving offence.

Despite the above, the Government has announced that it is not proceeding with the following initiatives that had previously been proposed:

  • Lowering the general alcohol limit below 0.05%.
  • Abolishing work licences.
  • Requiring work licence holders to install an alcohol ignition interlock.
  • Removing the 48 hour grace period for open licence holders to produce their driver licence when directed.

It is clear from the above that the Queensland Government is taking a much tougher stance on drink-drivers, and it can be assumed that the courts will be adopting a similar view. It is therefore even more necessary to take care on the roads before driving after a few drinks, as the penalties will only get more and more serious with time.

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