ABOUT 120 south-west drink-drivers who currently escape the scrutiny of interlock devices will have the equipment fitted to their cars under proposed Victorian laws.
About 6500 Victoria drivers each year commit an offence that carries a mandatory interlock requirement.
Extending the interlock program to all offenders would increase that figure to about 17,000.
In the south-west there are about 200 people caught drink-driving each year.
In the 2011-12 financial year there were 33 people processed through the Colac Magistrates Court, 35 people in Hamilton, 30 in Portland and 75 in Warrnambool court.
On the statewide figures an additional 120 drink-drivers a year in the south-west would be required to have interlock devices fitted.
It costs about $150 to have interlocks fitted and then removed from vehicles and the monthly fee is about $120 per device.
Interlock devices can be required in some offender’s vehicles for four years and in every vehicle that driver operates — a cost of more than $6000 for each vehicle.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said new laws would mean any driver caught with a blood-alcohol content over the legal limit would be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to their vehicle before they return to driving, except in exceptional circumstances determined by the courts.
Currently, only repeat offenders, those under the age of 26 who blow higher than 0.07, or drivers recorded with a BAC of more than 0.15 are required to fit an interlock device to their vehicle.
Drink-driving accounts for 25 to 30 per cent of deaths and 11 per cent of serious injuries on Victoria’s roads.
Repeat drink-drivers make up 30 per cent of all drivers caught drink-driving.
Alcohol interlocks prevent the car starting if the driver has been drinking. Attempts to use the car after consuming alcohol are recorded and count against the driver when that motorist applies to a magistrate to have the device removed from the car.
Mr Ryan said interlocks aim to stop more families suffering the pain of losing loved ones.
“Interlocks protect not only the community from would-be drink-drivers, but drink-drivers from themselves,” he said.
“VicRoads has said this policy could potentially save between 10 and 20 lives each year in Victoria, while the RACV and Victoria Police have strongly supported the policy.
“Some 30 per cent of first time offenders continue to drink and drive and become repeat offenders. The user-pays system ensures there’s a powerful financial deterrent to drink-driving.”
Mr Ryan said alcohol interlocks could eventually become standard in all new cars sold in Australia.
“The 2012 road safety survey found 83 per cent of Victorians believed more drink-drivers should be required to have alcohol interlock devices fitted to their vehicles,” Mr Ryan said.