Vehicle interlocks saving lives

Vehicle interlock alcohol testing systems are potential lifesaving devices.

Vehicle interlock alcohol testing systems may be potentially lifesaving devices, but if you have to use one hour and hour, day after day, week after week, they soon become an annoying part of your life.

An alcohol ignition interlock device is a piece of equipment that prevents a driver from starting a vehicle if there is alcohol on their breath. They can be installed on most vehicles with an ignition, including motorbikes. Essentially, they are special alcohol testing breathalysers with a vehicle locking system built in. They’re required in many Australian states and territories when a person gets back their licence, following a failed roadside alcohol testing result and subsequent drink-driving offence.

Let’s look at how they work in practice, using the Victorian Alcohol Interlock Program.

  • As soon as an alcohol interlock is installed on your vehicle, you’ll be a participant in the Victorian Alcohol Interlock Program. Sounds kind of special, being a member of a program, but believe us it isn’t!
  • In Victoria, anyone who fails roadside alcohol testing will need to have an interlock device installed on their vehicle, even for a first offence with a low range blood alcohol concentration.
  • The interlock device will stay on your vehicle for a given time and at least 6 months. The period will depend on your offence, your blood alcohol concentration when you failed the roadside alcohol testing, previous offences and also data downloaded from the interlocking device. What this means is that if data shows you’re inclined to jump into your vehicle and get locked out because there is alcohol on your breath, the period is likely to be longer. Once you’ve completed your offence period and proven you’ve separated drinking from driving, you can apply to have your alcohol interlock removed.
  • You should also try to smile a lot while driving (or at least do you hair) because a photo is taken regularly by the interlocking device to help reduce the chances of someone who hasn’t consumed alcohol blowing into the device while you drive.

Alcohol testing is saving lives too

We’ve come a long way from the days when it was almost seen as a badge of honour to drive home with a skinful and some of the improvements can be put down to roadside random alcohol testing. However, while we have made massive inroads, there is still a way to go. In Victoria alone, around 20% of drivers killed on our roads have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 or more. That’s 1 in 5 drivers.

If you drink and drive you’re a bloody idiot? You bet!


Vehicle interlock alcohol testing systems are potential lifesaving devices. Credit Kārlis Dambrāns (image modified)

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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