The Government’s intention to make alcohol interlocks mandatory for many drink drivers is a much-needed advancement to keep innocent people safe on the roads, according to the AA New Zealand.

“Interlocks have prevented 4,137 drink drive attempts since 2013. That is 100 drink drive attempts prevented each month with only a couple of hundred interlocks in use across New Zealand,” said AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“If such a small number of interlocks can prevent 100 drink driving attempts each month then imagine how much impact thousands of interlocks will have.”

“More interlocks in offenders’ vehicles will mean less drink driving and less innocent people put at risk. That’s something that all the AA’s 1.5 million members and everyone on the roads want.”

Alcohol interlocks are like in-car breathalyser devices that were introduced as a sentencing option for drink drivers in New Zealand in late 2012.

A combination of issues has meant that only about 2 per cent of the eligible offenders appearing before the courts have been sentenced to an interlock and the AA has been campaigning for years to have them be mandatory for high-risk drink drivers. Much greater use of interlocks was one of the road safety changes the AA called for in its 2014 Election Calls. The organisation says it is great to see the Government recognising the safety benefits this will deliver.

The AA also wants to see drink drivers screened for alcohol problems and rehabilitative treatment used alongside interlocks for those found to have an issue.

“Many drink drivers have serious alcohol problems. A court sentence taking away their licence doesn’t prevent them being able to get back behind the wheel the next time they get drunk. An interlock will mean they can’t drive their car with any alcohol in their system.

“Alcohol interlocks are the best weapon we have in the fight against drink driving and this change will see them used much more by the courts,” says Mr Thomsen.