Taking the positive out of alcohol testing positives

We all know the rules around roadside alcohol testing, but what about the rules on drinking alcohol in a car? Credit www.sandiegoduiattorneynow.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/134340661@N06/20108475181/

When it comes to alcohol and driving, the vast majority of us know and understand the importance of staying under the legal limit. It’s not just the threat of failing alcohol testing that drives us (sorry for the pun!). It’s the understanding that if we drive while we’re above the legal limit we’re more likely to have an accident and potentially cause an injury or death.

The current attitude to drink driving is a big change to how it was several decades ago, when driving home with a ‘skinful’ was the norm for some people. It’s the result of years of education, bringing about a cultural change. In addition, a lot of the credit has to go to the hundreds of alcohol testing operations carried out by our police forces around Australia.

In the last 10 years alone, in our two most populous states, NSW and Victoria, the rate of positive tests have dropped from .65% to .28% and .55% to .29% respectively.

Alcohol testing not the only concern

So, more of us know about the importance of staying below the legal limit when driving a car, but there are other road rules relating to the alcohol that you might not know about.

For example, it is illegal for a driver to drink alcohol in a car in most states and territories (but not all, see below). The rule is slightly different, depending on where you live, however. In Victoria, you’re not allowed to drink in the driver’s seat even if the car is stationary.

Here are some other rules involving alcohol and vehicles that you might not know about, courtesy of Corporate Driver Training Australia:

  • In Queensland, you’re not allowed to have alcohol in a moving vehicle, regardless of whether the driver or passengers are below the legal limit. Any alcohol in the car must be unopened and not in an area of the car where occupants can access it (i.e. the boot).
  • In South Australia, there isn’t a law that explicitly prohibits a driver from drinking alcohol in a car. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do so, because if you do have an accident and you are drinking this will be taken into account. SA does have laws stating that a driver must be in complete control of a vehicle at all times.
  • In Tasmania, it’s also an offence for any alcohol to be consumed in a vehicle, by the driver or passengers.
  • Western Australia doesn’t have any explicit rule relating to drinking in a car, although, of course, legal blood alcohol limits still apply.

Another rule that you may know about, but which makes good sense, is that if you’re supervising a learner driver then you can’t drink alcohol. What you may not know, however, is  that the blood alcohol level requirement can be different, depending upon where you live. According to Cars Guide, in South Australia the requirement is for a zero BAC, while in NSW, Victoria and Queensland it’s 0.05.

An interesting question that is approaching in the future is what will the rules be for when driverless cars become commonplace. While there are perhaps some people who are looking forward to this innovation in part so they can have a designated driver whenever they want, we’d suspect this is wishful thinking. It’s perhaps likely that there will be rules around alcohol consumption and blood alcohol levels still in place when driverless cars hit the road and we’ll still be seeing police on the road conducting alcohol testing.

Note: This post should be used as a guide only. If you are unsure of the rules in your state or territory, do some research or if in doubt don’t drink alcohol in a car at all.


We all know the rules around roadside alcohol testing, but what about the rules on drinking alcohol in a car? Credit www.sandiegoduiattorneynow.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/134340661@N06/20108475181/

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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