New Zealand Law Society - Alcohol interlocks mandatory from 1 July

Alcohol interlocks mandatory from 1 July

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Alcohol interlock devices become mandatory in sentencing for serious driving offences involving alcohol from 1 July 2018.

From 1 July section 65A of the Land Transport Act 1998 will be replaced with a series of amendments made by the Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 2).

Effectively the changes mean mandatory interlock sentencing for anyone caught driving with an alcohol level at or over 800 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath two or at over over 160 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or who has been convicted of a drink-driving offence within five years of the date of commission of the sentencing offence (section 65AB).

At the end of the required period of disqualification the person may apply for an alcohol interlock licence (section 65AC). They must have an alcohol interlock device installed and apply to exit the programme after at least 12 months. The next stage involves application for a zero alcohol licence.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says it has updated its information on alcohol interlocks.

Subsidy scheme

The cost of an interlock is around $2,500 per year. The amending legislation introduces a subsidy scheme for lower income drivers who have been given an alcohol interlock sentence. To be eligible someone must have been issued an alcohol interlock sentence from 1 July 2018 and meet the financial eligibility criteria.

Subsidy assistance means the approved person will not have to pay for the alcohol interlock licence, its installation in their vehicle, part of the monthly servicing fee ($50 subsidised a month), the zero alcohol licence issued after exiting the alcohol interlock programme, and removal of the interlock licence from their vehicle.

The subsidy will last 15 months and will not be extended beyond this.

People are eligible for a subsidy if they are:

  • entitled to receive sole parent support, a supported living payment, a community wage, an emergency benefit, veteran's pension, youth payment or young parent payment, or
  • entitled to receive weekly income compensation under the Veterans' Support Act 2014, or
  • their family or superannuation income is within the limits listed below:
If your household is then your yearly income (before tax) can be up to
Single - living with others $26,688
Single - living alone $28,322
Married, civil union or de facto couple - no children $42,352
NZ Superannuation single - living with others $27,571
NZ Superannuation single - living alone $29,299
NZ Superannuation married, civil union or de facto couple - no children $43,872
Family of 2 $50,673
Family of 3 $61,224
Family of 4 $69,616
Family of 5 $77,835
Family of 6 $87,020
For families of more than 6, the limit goes up another $8,095 for each extra person

Eligibility levels are the same as for a Community Services Card.