Skip to main content
(07) 4758 5858

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Systems FAQs

Posted: August 29, 2022

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Systems are devices which are installed on vehicles ensuring they cannot be started unless the driver has a 0% alcohol limit.

If you, or someone you know, is or has been convicted of drink driving, the following FAQs will help you understand the process.

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Systems – what are they and when do they apply?

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Systems

The Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld) (‘the Act’)[1] governs the maximum and minimum penalties that you may receive if convicted of driving whilst under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If you are charged with drink driving, your drivers’ licence will be immediately suspended by Queensland Police and you will receive notice of a court date.[2]

In some cases, after being convicted of drink driving, you will be required to install an Interlock Ignition System on your vehicle, at your cost.  The vehicle can not be started until you blow a 0% blood alcohol reading.  This is in addition to other penalties imposed by the court.

[1] Transport Operations (Road-Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld) s 86(1).
[2] Ibid s 79B.

Drink driving categories

If you are charged with driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, there are three categories of BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) as follows:

  1. General Alcohol Limit (BAC: 0.050 – 0.100)
  2. Middle Alcohol Limit (BAC: 0.100 – 0.150)
  3. High Alcohol Limit (BAC: Over 0.150)

The higher the blood alcohol content, the greater the penalty that would likely be imposed upon conviction.

Drink driving penalties

  1. Fine
  2. Disqualification
  3. Alcohol Interlock Ignition System
  4. Imprisonment

If you are convicted, the minimum penalty that a Magistrate must impose is a fine with a mandatory licence disqualification period.

The Court must impose a mandatory licence disqualification period between 1 – 9 months.[1] Penalties given will/can differ depending on your traffic history and whether you are over the General, Middle, or High alcohol limit.

The court may also be required to make an order that you install an interlock ignition system on your vehicle for a period of 12 months.  This will occur if you are charged with drink driving of over the Middle and High Alcohol Limit, which is a BAC of more than .100.

Tip – After the licence disqualification period has finished, your licence will not automatically be re-issued, and you must make an application to the Department of Transport and Main Roads to reinstate your licence.  It is relatively common for people to be charged with driving unlicenced due to them not realising that their licence had not been automatically re-issued.

[1] Ibid s 86(1).

Alcohol Interlock Ignition Systems

Alcohol Interlock Ignition Systems

Prior to 10 September 2021, only the offence of driving whilst over the High Alcohol Limit required you to undertake a performance-based interlock program. However since then, the offence driving whilst over the Middle Alcohol Limit (over .1 BAC) now has the same requirement. This was due to the government amending the Act which came into force on 10 September 2021.

The reasons for this change in the legislation was explained in the Queensland Legislative Assembly Committee Hearing on 2 September 2022 where the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, had announced that the Palaszczuk Government was cracking down on persons who are driving whilst over the Middle Alcohol limit (BAC over 0.1).

Mr Bailey had stated that this change was in response to the increase in deaths caused by drink driving in 2021.[1] Mr Bailey, stated further that drivers that are over the Middle Alcohol limit account for more than a quarter of all offenders and have a crash risk 20 times higher than the average driver.[2]

[1] Queensland, Parliamentary Debates, Legislative Assembly,2 September 2022,2430-2431 (Mark Bailey,Minister for Transport and Main Roads).
[2] Ibid.

Alcohol Interlock Ignition Systems – procedures & costs

You must nominate a vehicle and it must be prescribed with an interlock system. You may nominate more than one vehicle, however if you are caught driving a vehicle that isn’t nominated you will be charged with a further offence and be disqualified for a mandatory period of three (3) months.[1] You may be successful in applying for an exemption to the performance-based interlock program if the Chief Executive of the Department of Transport is satisfied that you meet either one or more of the following requirements:[2]

  1. Your principal place of residence is on a Queensland Island (this does not include Magnetic Island).[3]
  2. You only have one motor vehicle that is reasonably available, and it is not physically possible to fit approved interlock system on that vehicle.[4]
  3. You only have one vehicle that you or a family member uses, and it is evidenced by a medical certificate that you or your family member cannot provide a sufficient breath specimen;[5] and
  4. The refusal to grant an interlock exemption would cause severe hardship to the applicant. This includes if it prevents you from driving to, from, or in the course of work and there is no other transport reasonably available.[6]

The minimum period to complete the performance-based interlock program is 12 months.[7] The total costs of the installation fee and monthly fee for the period of 12 months is between $910 and $1,830. This adds a significant penalty to anyone convicted of driving with a reading of more than 0.1 BAC.

[1] Ibid s 95W.
[2] Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld) s 91Q.
[3] Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2021 (Qld) s343 ss (1)-(2).
[4] Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2021 (Qld) s 344.
[5] Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2021 (Qld) s 345(1).
[6] Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2021 (Qld) s 346(1).
[7] Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2021 (Qld) s 91N(1).

When should I obtain legal advice?

It is important that if you are charged with an offence of driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you are aware of the penalties that may be imposed in the Magistrates Court and by Department of Transport and Main Roads. The penalties that a Magistrate can impose can range from fines to a term of imprisonment depending on your Queensland Traffic History.

An order that you install an alcohol interlock system for at least 12 months is a significant penalty itself.  You can apply 28 days before the end of your disqualification period for an interlock exemption, therefore it is best to seek legal advice with respect of your prospects of receiving an exemption prior to this period.

If you are a person with a previous traffic history of offence/s of drink driving within the last five years, you could be at risk of receiving a term of imprisonment and legal representation will definitely be required in those circumstances.


For further assistance in traffic offence or in any criminal law matter, please contact our dedicated criminal law team.