NSW low-range drink drivers to lose licences immediately

NSW low-range drink drivers to lose licences immediately

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“This reform makes it clear, if you break the law, you will pay the price. We are taking a zero-tolerance approach to drink- and drug-driving.”

Drivers can appeal against the suspension through the courts but all drivers will initially lose their licences. Previously, they could keep their licences if they challenged the matter in court.

NSW Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance said the government would take a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving.Credit:David Porter

In NSW, about 56 per cent of low-range drink-drivers escape any punishment when the matter reaches the court system, Mr Constance said.

“This now changes that. Anyone caught drink-driving, you will lose your licence,” he said.

“Ultimately we want to do anything we can to lower the road toll so the message has to be clear that, as of May 20, if you are breathalysed with a low range, you will have an immediate three-month suspension.”

Mr Constance said alcohol-related crashes killed at least 68 people on NSW roads last year, accounting for nearly one in five road deaths, including 55 lives lost on country roads.

Fatalities from crashes involving a drug-driver accounted for similar numbers of deaths, he said.

Under the new laws, the penalties for drug-drivers will also be simplified.

Offenders who drive with the presence of illicit drugs will receive a $561 fine and a three-month licence suspension if the offence is confirmed by laboratory analysis.

Assistant Police Commissioner Michael Corboy said the new reforms would protect all road users by ensuring “swift and certain penalties”.

“Alcohol is one of the major factors in crashes that kill or injure people on NSW roads. The .05 blood alcohol limit has been in place for almost 38 years. There are no more excuses,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner Corboy said most drink-driving deaths were in regional NSW, largely western and northern NSW.

He said the new regime would also allow police to spend less time preparing matters for court.

“For us, this really gives us some consistency across the state,” he said.

Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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