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There are concerns new drink driving laws will unfairly impact people with low incomes.
New laws passed recently in the NSW parliament will see harsher penalties for all ranges of drink driving.
A driver committing a low-range drink driving offence will now be issued a $561 fine and lose their licence on the spot, facing a three month suspension.
First time drug presence offenders found by NSW’s roadside Mobile Drug Testing will receive the penalty.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has concerns that low income earners will feel the sting from these penalties more than other people.
“People who’ve got low means might find themselves subject to further penalties down the track, including further loss of licence and that can lead to a whole chain of events,” according to Pauline Wright, Vice President of the NSW CCL.
“People who don't have the ability to pay a fine might say ‘well this is better than going to court’, then end up not being able to pay the fine, and then suffering a penalty because they can't pay that fine.”
Have a Plan B. Because if you drink drive, you will be caught, and you will lose your licence - Ms Pavey
The immediate loss of licence may also disproportionately affect those living in remote communities, or who need their car for work.
“If they're in a rural or regional remote area they might drive despite being suspended from driving and then find themselves subject to really serious penalties and even jail if they breach those sorts of orders,” Ms Wright said.
“Thats the real concern, people who’ve got low means might find themselves subject to further penalties down the track.”
The reforms will be enforced from the end of 2018 as part of the NSW Government’s Road Safety plan 2021.
Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said the laws were designed as a stronger deterrent.
“Last year 55 people lost their lives in alcohol related crashes and 81 people died in crashes involving someone with illicit drugs in their system,” she said.
A first time mid-range offender will now have to have an alcohol interlock device installed on their car, which will require them to breath test under the limit for their car to start.
They also require randomly timed breath tests throughout the journey
These ignition linked breathalysers were previously only required for serious or repeat offenders.
High risk, repeat offenders will face vehicle sanctions as well as other penalties which can include licence plate confiscation and vehicle impoundment.
“The 0.05 limit has been in place in NSW for almost 38 years. Today is about driving home to the community that there are no more excuses,” Ms Pavey said.
“The message to the community is powerful. Have a Plan B. Because if you drink drive, you will be caught, and you will lose your licence.”