New Zealand Law Society - Update on funded alcohol interlock licence pilot

Update on funded alcohol interlock licence pilot

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A Department of Corrections pilot to fund alcohol interlock devices on offenders’ vehicles is progressing well, says Project Manager Caitlin Chester.

Since last October, eligible offenders on community sentences have had the cost of fitting an alcohol interlock to their vehicles paid for by Corrections, as part of a pilot to reduce repeat drink driving.

“With 60 interlocks installed by the end of February, and a further 14 booked for installation, it looks like we’ll easily reach our target of 100 offenders by June,” Ms Chester says.

Due to the high uptake, the pilot will expand so more offenders can take part.

In an agreement between the Department of Corrections and interlock provision company Smart Start, Smart Start install and download monthly data from the alcohol interlocks. With most of the cost absorbed by the department, the enthusiastic uptake by eligible offenders suggests that cost was a factor in the previously poor uptake of interlocks.

An alcohol interlock is available to offenders who are:

  • currently eligible for an alcohol interlock licence, ie are convicted of an alcohol driving offence and have previously been convicted of such an offence within five years, or have >800mg (breath) or 160mg (blood alcohol); and
  • are sentenced to a community sentence (Supervision, Intensive Supervision, Community Detention, Community Work and Home Detention).

To be eligible for the pilot an individual must be sentenced before 1 July 2016 and have their interlock installed by 31 October 2016. The pilot will conclude in November 2017.

Corrections will fund:

  • the cost of the alcohol interlock licence ($200);
  • the lease of the device and its installation;
  • monthly downloading of data (for 12 months);
  • 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).

Alcohol Interlock devices

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. International evidence shows the use of alcohol interlocks results in reductions of between 64% and 70% in recidivism of alcohol-impaired driving.

For more information contact Caitlin Chester, email:

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