Drink and drug drivers in Western Australia will face tougher penalties under new legislation being introduced to State Parliament today.
Road Safety Minister Rob Johnson said the Road Traffic Amendment (Alcohol and Drug Related Offences) Bill 2010 would also require a zero Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level for drivers of buses, taxis, heavy vehicles, small charter vehicles and vehicles carrying dangerous goods.
Motorists covered under S64A of the Road Traffic Act (1974), including extraordinary licence holders and recently disqualified drivers, would also be required to have a zero BAC level.
Mr Johnson said the proposed legislation, which was based on recommendations from the Road Safety Council, would align the penalties of drink driving with the relative risk of crashing while under the influence of alcohol.
“Research shows that consuming alcohol prior to driving increases crash risk, and the more alcohol a person consumes before driving, the greater their chance of being involved in a crash,” he said.
“Drivers are twice as likely to crash with a BAC of 0.05g/100ml; seven times as likely to crash with a BAC of 0.08g/100ml; and 25 times as likely to crash with a BAC of 0.15g/100ml.
“As such, the proposed drink driving fines and duration of licence suspension and/or cancellation increase as the driver’s BAC rises.
“Drug drivers will also face higher fines and longer suspension and/or cancellation periods depending on their level of impairment and/or number of previous offences.
“The aim of the new penalties is to deter all motorists from offending or reoffending, for the safety of everyone on our roads.
“Drink and drug drivers do not belong on our roads. They pose a significant risk to themselves and, most importantly, to other innocent road users and we have seen far too often the tragedy they can cause by their selfish actions.”
Currently, the penalty for driving with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 for a first offence attracts an infringement fine of $100 or a court-imposed fine of $200. Under the proposed legislation, the penalty would increase to $250 for an infringement fine and up to $500 for a court-imposed fine.
For a second offence of driving with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08, the maximum court-imposed fine would double from $500 to $1,000 and the court disqualification of a driver’s licence would rise from three months to between six to eight months.
If a driver tests positive to having an illicit drug in their system or refuses to be drug tested at the roadside, the maximum fine will increase from $200 to $500 for a first offence, and from $500 to $1,000 for a second and subsequent offence, which will also attract a minimum six-month licence disqualification.
The Minister said the fine increases were necessary as drink driving penalties in WA had largely remained unchanged since 1997 and, compared to other jurisdictions, the State currently had a relatively low penalty regime.
“There is a pressing need to make penalties more relevant to the potential problems that breaches of the offences can cause and bring WA into line with other Australian jurisdictions,” he said.
In 2009, nearly one-third (32 per cent) of fatal crashes in WA involved a driver with a BAC greater than 0.05.
In 2008-09, 21,855 drivers tested by police were found to exceed the lawful alcohol limit.
Four tables detailing penalties are attached below.
The Road Traffic Legislation Amendment (Disqualification by Notice) Bill 2010 passed through State Parliament yesterday, which will allow police to issue an immediate licence disqualification notice to anyone who is caught driving with a blood alcohol content above 0.08 or who refuses a breath or blood test.
The legislation will also make it harder for people to obtain extraordinary licences.
Minister's office - 9222 9211