G0\1ERNMENT RESPaiSE TO 'DIE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMI'ITEE REPORTS, ALCOHOL ABUSE. R SAFETY AND DRINK DRIVER EOOCATIOO AND TREA'l.

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1 G0\1ERNMENT RESPaiSE TO 'DIE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMI'ITEE REPORTS, ALCOHOL ABUSE R<W> SAFETY AND DRINK DRIVER EOOCATIOO AND TREA'l"MENN'

2 1 Road accidents are one of the most important causes of trauma in Victoria In 1987 there were 705 people killed and 9,901 admitted to hospital following a road accident The Government has a broad range of programs in place aimed at improving road safety The biggest single problem is alcohol In recent years 37-38% of drivers/riders killed, and around 20% of drivers and riders admitted to hospital had a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 05 g/100 ml While this is a considerable reduction compared to the levels of a few years ago, it remains an unacceptable level One specific sub-set of the accident problem is the drinking driver who has already had a prior drink driving conviction About 12,000 drivers are convicted for a drink driving offence each year in Victoria The average blood alcohol concentration of this group is more than twice the legal limit, and about half are people with a serious drinking problem Although the emphasis on drink driving enforcement is justified primarily because of the general deterrence benefits, there is nevertheless an opportunity to work with those detected, to resolve their problems The potential benefits from this approach are substantial Not only do these drivers contribute significantly to drink driving accidents while driving under disqualification, unlicensed, or after regaining their licence, they also impose significant costs on the community in other areas where their drinking pattern leads to problems A good deal of effort at present goes into this All of those who have a blood alcohol concentration of 10 g/100 ml or more and all second offenders have to obtain a licence restoration order from a court before they can be relicensed, and about 3,000 convicted drink drivers each year undertake educational programs lhe Library, Par'iament -1i /ict: :,"t

3 - 2 - Even with these systems in operation, 85% of fatal accidents involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration over 05 g/100 ml, and also a previous drink driving conviction, in most cases within the previous 6 years The cost to the community of these accidents is of the order of $20m per year Of concern also is the fact that a substantial number of drivers under disqualification for drink driving continue to drive, and about one third of those disqualified apparently do not apply for re-licensing The detection of unlicenced drivers is cumbersome using the current administrative system In this context the Reports of the Social Development Committee Inquiry into this problem are welcome, and the general thrust of the package of recommendations is supported Detailed responses to the recommendations are provided below FIRST REPORT ReCODJDendation 1 That the Road Traffic _Authority, in collaboration with the Attorney-General's Department and the Victoria Police, establish a Major Traffic Offence Information System, incorporating data on drink-driving and other convictions for serious traffic offences from court, police, and driver licensing records The Road Traffic Authority is adding data on serious traffic offences to the computerised driver licence file Previous convictions are at present being added; this process will be completed by June This data file will provide authorised users with the on-line information they need Ihe Library,!\Jiliamem ;J 'r:t('\ n

4 - 3 - Recommendation 2 That the Road Traffic Authority undertake research to: develop new countermeasure strategies for the deterrence and detection of disqualified driving by drink-driving offenders~ and determine the circumstances under which some drink-driving offenders fail to apply for licence restoration, and its significance for the incidence of disqualified driving These projects are worthwhile ones, are supported and will be initiated as quickly as resources allow For example: letters to drivers under disqualification ensuring that they are aware of the penalty for driving and of the way to get a licence back will be trialled ~-~, - well publicised police lice~~ghecks will be trialled surveys of those who have not appl~d for licence restoration within 6 months of becoming eligible will be undertaken Recommendation 3 That the Road Traffic Authority investigate anomalies in sentencing practices and court procedures involving drink-driving charges laid under the Road Safety Act 1986, and report to the Minister for Transport on any measure necessary to close these anomalies and improve the enforcement of the legislation This recommendation relates to three specific items (i) When a person detected with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 15 g/100 ml is immediately suspended, and appeals against the immediate suspension, there is no provision for the member of the police force involved to be informed, and to give evidence

5 This is being corrected, through the Road Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill currently before the Parliament ( ii) A licence must be suspended for exceeding a speed limit by 30 km;h or more (there is no provision for bonds) whereas for drink driving first offences under 10 g/100 ml, courts can use the bond provisions A change to these provisions is not supported There are mandatory minimum penalties, with no provision for bonds, for drink driving offences where the BAC is more than 10 g/100 ml and for exceeding a speed limit by 30 km;h or more It is for these offences that the accident risk is very high For offences involving relatively less risk, such as driving with BAC of 10 g/100 ml or less, or exceeding a speed limit by less-~~ 30 km;h it is reasonable to allow the courts more discretion (iii) Convicted drink drivers for whom imprisonment is an option can be put on a Community Based Order, which need not involve licence loss First offenders for whom imprisonment is not an option, must lose their licence The Government supports mandatory loss of licence for those placed on a Community Based Order, and will act to ensure that this happens ReCCIIIIIDendations That the Road Traffic Authority initiate a small-scale trial of the use of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices as a condition of licence restoration, in collaboration with the Victoria Police and the Health Department Victoria 'th L' L e 1brary, P:lfliarn~nt ot Vir,rfr

6 - 5-5 That the trial of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices make provision for an exemption of employer-owned vehicles, and be restricted to convicted drink-drivers who have previously offended, and been convicted of an offence involving blood alcohol concentration in excess of 20 g/100 ml 6 That the trial of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices be thoroughly evaluated, including the contribution of these devices to reduced recidivism and accident involvement by chronic drink-drivers, and to the control of problem drinking behaviour by these drivers 7 That the evaluation of the ignition interlock trial include a review of existing penalties for breach of a licence condition, with a view to the introduction of compliance incentives for drivers relicensed with an interlock restriction Ignition inte~locks have the potential to play a most important role in preventing afcidents involving people whose drinking is out of control These accid~nts are very difficult to prevent in other ways Since this is a new mea$ure, however, it is necessary to proceed carefully in order to obtain the maximum benefit from it It is appropriate to start with involving drivers with a particularly high risk of drink involved accidents Progress will be reviewed after two years The Committee's recommendation that interlocks be trialled was supported in submissions to the Committee by the Health Department, the Office of Corrections, the Victoria Police, and Dr Ross Homel, of Macquarie University Some work with similar devices is being undertaken in the United States No reports are available as yet, but contact with personnel involved gives cause for some optimism about the prospects for success in Victoria There will not be exemption relating to employer-owned vehicles The risk of drink driving by people with two previous drink driving convictions, one of them involving a BAC of 20 g/ml or more is high

7 - 6 - The Road Traffic Authority had provided to the Conuni ttee a procedure for carrying out the trial, which is reproduced as Appendix 7 to the report The Conunittee indicated support for this proposal, with departure from the procedure at a number of points, specified in the reconunendations above and in the principles on page 158 of the Report Changes recommended by the Committee are as follows: (a) The trial should be organised in collaboration with the Victoria Police and the Health Department of Victoria - This will be done ' (b) The trial should involve those who had a BAC exceeding 20 g/100 ml, and who had a prior offence - The recommendation is supported (c) (d) The trial should irtvolve an evaluation of the effectiveness of the use of interlocks in terms of recidivism, accident involvement and drinking behaviqur / - An evaluatior will be undertaken; however the numbers involved will be too small for a statistically valid analysis of the effect on accidents The evaluation will as a consequence concentrate on the process' involved, and the effects on behaviour The trial should include a review of existing penalties for breach of licence condition, with a view to the introduction of compliance incentives - A careful examination of compliance with the interlock conditions, and of all ways to ensure it is high will be undertaken (e) The period of a restricted interlock licence should be commensurate with periods of restriction applying to other groups of drivers The interlock condition will apply for two years of the period for which an initial licence is on probation This is the length

8 - 7 - (f) Court fines paid by offenders should be used to meet the costs of the interlocks in part or in full - Court fines will not be used to meet the costs of interlocks in part or full - a full "user pays" system will operate and will be reviewed to ensure it is satisfactory ReCOD'IIlE!ndation 8 That the level of random breath testing in Victoria be raised and maintained at this level, with greater emphasis placed on the use of mobile breath testing strategies Victoria Police propose to significantly increase the number of preliminary breath tests conducted during 1988/89 A target of 700,000 tests has been set Existing use of "Booze Buses" will continue In addition, increased numbers of single /v~hicle breath testing stations will be operated In recent years about 400,000 drivers have been tested each year at RBT stations including bus and single car operations This strategy will provide increased flexibility of operation; it will also achieve a more widespread breath testing visibility to motorists generally Increased levels of testing of motorists intercepted for traffic offences will also be undertaken Recommendation 9 That magistrates retain existing powers under Section 50 of the Road Safety Act 1986 to consider applications for licence restoration by convicted drink-drivers This recommendation is supported l' tt:he Library~ Pc,;!iament of Victc; fa

9 - 8- Reccmnendations 10 That the Road Safety Act 1986 be amended to empower magistrates to request a licence restoration report from agencies accredited by the Health Department Victoria, on the fitness of recurrent drink-driving offenders to be relicensed This recommendation is supported ReCOIIIDendation 11 That a licence restoration report from an accredited agency be mandatory in the case of recurrent drink-driving offenders convicted with blood alcohol concentrations in excess of 15 g/100 ml All second drink driving offenders, and all first offenders who had a BAC of 15 g/100 m1 or more will be required to obtain a report from an accredited agency Where an earlier assessment (see Rec 5 of second report) was to the effect that the person concerned had a drinking problem, a second assessment at time of relicensing w~ll be required Reccmnendation 12 That the Office of Corrections encou~age the wider use of Community Based Orders by magistrates as a sentencing option in drink-driving cases where no criminal offence has been committed / / // The Office of Corrections supports the wider use of Community Based Orders for chronic drink-drivers facing imprisonment The Office of Corrections also supports the wider use of Court Advice Service by the judiciary to provide advice on sentencing options Through

10 - 9 - discussions with magistrates, courts will be made more aware of the alcohol assessment and treatment options available under Community Based orders, in order to encourage greater use of the orders Recommendation 13 That Section 59 ( 3) of the Road Safety Act 1986 be maintained, and no amendment made to the Act which imposes a zero blood alcohol restriction on drivers who fail to carry their licence Section 59(3) will be repealed, to strengthen the requirement for drivers to carry a licence with them when driving This section currently provides 7 days of grace for licence production This change will allow random licence checks to be used to deter unlicenced and disqualified driving Without this provision it has been found that the procedures that must be used to detect unlicenced and disqualified drivers are too cumbersome to be practical It is necessary to deter those who would be subject to an interlock requirement from driving illegally without a device fitted for the devices to be effective Recommendation 14 That a system of police radio communication to computerised driver licence records be established This has been done Police can check conviction history as well as licence status However, it has not solved the problems involved in licence checks, while drivers are not required to carry a licence Recommendations That drivers convicted of a first drink-driving offence involving a blood alcohol concentration of 10 g/100 ml or more be relicensed subject to a zero blood alcohol restriction, applicable for a period of at least 12 months T 'lhe Library, Parlmment of Victu: ;;

11 That a sliding scale of zero blood alcohol restriction period apply to licences restored on a magistrates order, up to a maximum of two years for offenders with previous drink-driving convictions, or convictions involving blood alcohol concentration of 15 g/100 ml or more Drivers convicted for a drink driving offence (except those convicted of an offence against Sections 49(1)(b)(f) or (g) where it was a first offence and the blood alcohol concentration was less than 10 g/100 ml) will be re licenced subject to a zero alcohol limit for two years This is ' comparable with the period for which novice drivers are subject to the zero limit SECCN> REPORT Recommendation 1 That drink-driving education programs remain a component of relicensing procedures for convicted drink-drivers subject to relicensing by a magistrate This recommendation is supported Recommendations That the Health Department Victoria develop and implement a system of accreditation for drink-driving education programs as a matter of urgency, in consultation with the Road Traffic Authority, the St Vincent's Hospital Department of Community Medicine, and the Pleasant View Centre 3 That the accreditation system for drink-driving education programs make provision for systematic monitoring and evaluation of program performance

12 That the Health Department Victoria establish a training course for drink-driving education program staff, in collaboration with the Road Traffic Authority, the St Vincent's Hospital Department of Conununity Medicine, and the Pleasant View Centre 5 That further development of drink-driving education programs be focused into two streams, the first stream to provide education-only programs for young first offenders, and the second stream to provide special education programs for older and multiple offenders, with components of education, assessment and referral to treatment 6 That section 50 of the Road Safety Act 1986 be amended to formalise the discretionary power of magistrates to require attendance at a drink-driving education program as a condition of licence restoration 1 That section 50 of the Road Safety Act 1986 be further amended to make attendance at an accredited drink-driving education program compulsory for any offender who is a multiple offender, or has been convicted with a blood alcohol level of 10 g/100 ml or more, and who is under 25 years of age These recommendations are in general supported The requirements for different groups will be as follows a Learners, P plate drivers, those without a licence at time of conviction and full licence holders under 25 years of age will all, after a first offence, provided the BAC is less than 15 g/100 ml, be required to complete an accredited educational program before they can be relicenced Those whose licence is not cancelled by the court will have to do the course as well, or their licence will be cancelled administratively b All second and subsequent offenders, and first offenders whose BAC is 15 g/100 ml or more will following conviction, be required within 28 days to attend an accredited agency for assessment for drinking

13 problems This process will involve provision of information on the effects of alcohol on applying to a court for a licence restoration order when the period of cancellation is complete, these people will be required to be re-assessed by an accredited agency People who were judged as still being dependent on alcohol at the second assessment will not be relicenced ' c Full licence holders aged 25 years or more convicted of a first offence with a BAC of 10 g/100 ml or more, but less than 15 g/100 ml will be required to apply to a court for a licence restoration order, and may be required by the court to undertake assessment or attendance of an educational program Recommendation 8 That the Health Department Victoria collaborate with the Road Traffic Authority to develop new educational materials for use in drink-driving educational programs This recommendation is supported Recommendation 9 That the Health Department Victoria, in collaboration with the Road Traffic Authority, develop and disseminate appropriate information on drink-driving education programs to magistrates and young offenders This recommendation is supported This initiative will be a natural extension of the existing networks of contact between Health Department agencies, Attorney General's Department and the judicial system

14 Reconmendation 10 That the Health Department Victoria fund the establishment of a metropolitan drink-driving educational program for offenders from non-english speaking backgrounds The proposal is supported This recommendation is consistent with an identified priority for development of alcohol and drug services for a range of target groups including people of non-english speaking backgrounds Reconmendation 11 That the Health Department Victoria increase funding to the Pleasant View program to permit re-establishment of a residential component This recommendation is not supported A comprehensive report on evaluation of the Pleasant View Drink Drive program suggests there is no significant advantage in terms of client outcomes from offering a residential component in preference to non-residential community based programs Reconmendation 12 That the Health Department Victoria investigate the feasibility of establishing a mobile drink-driving education program, to service country areas not equipped with alcohol and drug treatment centres This recommendation is supported Whilst the study of feasibility can be achieved within existing resources, any proposal to establish a mobile drink driving education program will have substantial resource implications beyond existing budget limitations

15 Recommendation 13 That a proportion of revenue derived from drink-driving fines be deposited in the Drug Rehabilitation and Research Fund, and used to fund the expansion and further development of drink-driving education programs in Victoria This r~commendation is not supported New programs require recurrent funding which is inconsistent with the charter of the Drug Rehabilitation and Research Fund and its operation

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