From 30 September 2015 the Department of Corrections has begun to fund at least 100 alcohol interlock devices for eligible offenders on community sentences in a limited 12-month pilot.
International evidence shows the use of alcohol interlocks results in large reductions of between 64-70% in recidivism of alcohol-impaired driving. The Corrections pilot aims to achieve a reduction in repeat drink driving in New Zealand.
There is no change to the current alcohol interlock licence system other than that Corrections will fund the device for offenders on a community sentence during the pilot. Corrections wants lawyers to inform their clients of this funded pilot and to recommend an alcohol interlock licence to judges at sentencing.
The pilot began on 30 September 2015 and will be available to offenders who are:
- currently eligible for an alcohol interlock licence, that is are convicted of an alcohol driving offence and have previously been convicted of such an offence within 5 years, or have more than 800mg (breath) or 160mg (blood alcohol); and
- sentenced to a community sentence (Supervision, Intensive Supervision, Community Detention, Community Work or Home Detention).
The final referral will be accepted on the pilot by 30 June 2016 with the pilot concluding in September 2017.
National pilot and funding
An alcohol interlock device is connected to the start-up mechanism of a car and acts as a vehicle immobiliser. It is not possible to start the car until the driver has successfully passed a breath alcohol test.
Funding has been secured from the Justice Sector Fund for the Work & Living Skills: Road Safety Package. This is a national pilot so this sentencing option will be available to judges throughout the country.
For the pilot to be statistically useful, Corrections needs 100 offenders on the pilot programme by June 2016. However, as the funding is limited Corrections will let lawyers know how the pilot is tracking in terms of numbers of offenders and available funding.
Corrections will be working with the alcohol interlock provider and licensing agents NZTA, AA, VINZ and VTNZ. Corrections will fund:
- the cost of the alcohol interlock licence ($200);
- the lease of the device and its installation;
- monthly downloading of data;
- removal of the device at the end of the pilot or if the offender chooses to opt out; and
- the fee for a zero alcohol drivers’ licence ($66.40).
- The offender is responsible for the following costs:
- extra service fees resulting from violations ($45 per service); and
- transferring the interlock to another vehicle if required ($175 per transfer).
For more information contact Tangihaere Walker, email: email@example.com.
This article was written by the communications team at the Department of Corrections.