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How Much is a Car Interlock Device in Australia?

Excessive alcohol consumption often leads to severe impairments. Regular consumers who drive a vehicle pose road hazards because of decreased sensory and motor functions abilities. Particularly, a person with a high alcohol concentration has diminished vision, speech, hearing, balance, and coordination. It also affects the reaction time and risk assessment necessary in driving. As a result, it causes accidents and serious injuries on the road. Therefore, Australian laws enforce heavier penalties to lessen the adverse impacts of impaired driving. Among the penalties is getting a car interlock device fitted for high-range drink driving offenders. Moreover, many people check their alcohol levels using a breathalyser. Devices from Breathalysers Australia efficiently measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to help individuals make informed decisions.

Getting into an Alcohol Interlock Program in Australia

An alcohol interlock program is a driving condition imposed on a person with a high-range drink driving offence. Under the program, a limited license allows a driver to operate a vehicle with a car interlock device. A car interlock is an electronic device installed and connected to the car engine. It requires a zero BAC breath sample to start the car. Therefore, the person under the program must perform a breath test every time they drive. Additionally, each State and Territories of Australia have specific conditions for the Alcohol Interlock Program:

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – high-range and habitual offenders; the BAC is 0.15 or higher.
  • New South Wales (NSW) – high-range and habitual offenders; the BAC is 0.15 or higher.
  • Northern Territory – medium-range (0.08% BAC), high-range (0.015% BAC), for second and subsequent offences; driving with a BAC if the alcohol limit is zero.
  • Queensland – high range driving; the BAC is 0.15 or higher.
  • South Australia – second or subsequent offences within five years, with a BAC of 0.08 or above; driving with a BAC of 0.15 or above at first offence.
  • Tasmania – high-range BAC (0.15 or higher); two or more drink driving offences within five years.
  • Victoria – the first offence for probationary or learner permit (at any BAC level); BAC with 0.07 or higher
  • Western Australia – BAC of 0.08 or higher; second or subsequent offence with a BAC of 0.02 or higher within five years.

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Car Interlock Costs

Persons subject to the Alcohol Interlock Program must apply for an interlock license to be allowed to drive. It aims to reduce drink driving incidents, especially among habitual offenders. It also ensures that consumers separate their drinking and driving. The participant must complete the duration without committing further violations to exit the program. Additionally, only certified service providers can install a car interlock device. It is also a user-pay program where the participant will shoulder the costs. In particular, the estimated costs are between $2200 to $2500 per year. Typically, the cost of a car interlock in Australia includes:

  • Administration fee – a one-time payment upon issuance of the interlock licence; the cost is $167.
  • Installation fee –  the installation cost will depend on the vehicle type, service provider and State laws; the prices start at $175 for standard and light vehicles.
  • Monthly leasing fee – the fee that the service provider charges for using and servicing the equipment.
  • Removal fee – the fee of removing the device at the end of the interlock period; the cost starts at $100.

The participant may pay an additional fee under several circumstances. For example, a transfer fee is charged if you want to transfer the car interlock device to another vehicle. Additionally, you will have to pay an extra for unscheduled services or if your car has been locked out due to successive failed breath tests. Moreover, discounts of up to 35 per cent are available for people with valid health cards.

Operating a Car Interlock Device

To operate a vehicle, the driver must provide a fresh breath sample to the car interlock device. The equipment captures the exhaled breath through a mouthpiece and analyses the sample with sensors. Ignition devices use fuel cell sensors to process the breath sample. Fuel cell sensor technology has higher accuracy than standard personal breathalysers with semiconductor sensors. Furthermore, a car interlock device is ethanol-specific and does not react with other substances in the breath. Therefore, it is less likely to produce false positives. Moreover, drivers must have zero alcohol content to start the engine’s ignition. If the equipment detects a BAC, it will not start the car. Thus, you will have to wait for a few minutes before conducting a breath test.

A car interlock device records all the BAC test results where the service provider downloads it every month. Some models also come with a video or photo verification to ensure that the right person is giving the breath sample. Once you pass the breath test, you may be able to drive. However, car interlock devices come with a rolling retest feature where you need to provide a new breath sample at random intervals. The rolling retest ensures that no additional alcohol is taken while driving. Failure to give a breath sample within a specified time will cause the vehicle to sound off.

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Why You Should Use a Personal Breathalyser

The total estimated cost of having a car interlock device can reach $2,500 per year. Additionally, the interlock program in Australia lasts for a minimum of one year, depending on the severity of the offence. Therefore, it is a huge cost, especially for low-income earners. People may apply for financial assistance to help complete the program. Subsequently, many people use a personal breathalyser to monitor their alcohol intake. For instance, people check their BAC level every hour to see the increase in their BAC level. If their BAC is nearing or has reached the legal limits (0.05%), they can choose to slow down or stop their consumption. Devices from Breathalysers Australia help people stay within the driving limit to prevent accidents or drink driving charges. Moreover, it is more cost-efficient to use a breathalyser like BACtrack than paying hefty fines or having a car interlock device.

Choosing a Personal Breathalyser

A personal breathalyser can go a long way, especially if you consume alcohol regularly. You can avoid the high cost of a car interlock device by checking your BAC before driving. Most BACtrack devices at Breathalysers Australia employ fuel cell sensors to give precise and dependable BAC readings. You may choose the Pro series at Breathalysers Australia, like the BACtrack S80 Pro, Scout, or Trace Pro. Likewise, the BACtrack Mobile Pro, C6 Keychain and C8 Smartphone have Bluetooth connectivity. The breathalysers can deliver the BAC results directly on the smartphone screen. It also estimates when the BAC will return to 0.00% through the efficient ZeroLine technology. Therefore, using a breathalyser with police-grade accuracy is more beneficial in ascertaining reliable results. Moreover, breathalysers help you stay on track and understand how alcohol affects your body. They are a great investment in ensuring your safety and others.