Australia Drunk drivers in outback Queensland to foot $2k bill for alcohol interlock devices
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Drunk drivers in outback Queensland are being stopped in their tracks with new interlock devices as frustrated police try to lower rates of high-risk drink driving.
The devices feature facial recognition technology and are connected to the internet, with convicted motorists forced to foot the estimated $2,000 bill for installation.
“These devices are well worth it as they make drivers accountable for their actions,” Sergeant Paul Quinlan, officer in charge of the Mount Isa District Road Policing Unit, said.
Beating the system
Up until now, convicted drivers in rural parts of Queensland could apply for a court exemption because there was no qualified technician in the area to install alcohol interlock devices.
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But an auto technician is due to arrive at the end of September to begin fitting the upgraded systems.
The devices are fitted to vehicles and require a breath test, and now facial verification, to start the ignition.
This month, the state government lowered the limit for a high-risk Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) from 0.15 to 0.1 state-wide.
Queensland’s Assistant Minister for Regional Roads, Bruce Saunders, welcomed the upgraded technology.
“The new system is absolutely brilliant, they’re going to be more accurate,” Mr Saunders said.
“I don't have any sympathy for drunk drivers.”
Worse than the state average
Sergeant Quinlan said, on average, 55 people were killed in Queensland each year in alcohol-related road crashes, while another 500 were seriously injured.
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He said the north-west Queensland district had a worse record for drink-driving than other regions.
“On average across Queensland, one in 75 drivers turns a positive breath test,” Sergeant Quinlan said.
“In the Mount Isa police district, we have one in 65 drivers turning a positive breath test."
The district covers towns from Birdsville to Mornington Island, east to Julia Creek and as far west as Camooweal.
“This year in the Mount Isa district, there have been 298 drunk drivers. Of that, 97 were over 0.15 and 75 were over 0.1,” Sergeant Quinlan said.
Mr Saunders said the facial recognition technology was aimed at catching drivers trying to get around earlier models.
“I've had an instance in my electorate where a man had the old interlock system and he was getting his neighbour's kid to blow in the interlock so he could drive his car, which is a worry and concern,” he said.
While the new interlock systems would act as a deterrent to drunk driving, people need to take greater responsibility behind the wheel, Mr Saunders said.
“It's about time people stepped up. We can build the best roads, we can put the best legislation in place regarding these reforms, but eventually it comes down to the person,” he said.
“If your mate is having a beer or you think he shouldn't be driving, take the keys off him.”
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