Attorney-General Robert Clark today announced the Victorian Coalition Government will tomorrow introduce legislation to resolve legal points that have arisen about the drafting and interpretation of laws on alcohol interlocks and community correction orders (CCOs).
The legislation will:
- Give courts the power to require alcohol interlock devices to be fitted when the court allows a person to get their driving licence back after having lost it due to drink-driving infringements, and validate the alcohol interlock requirements courts have imposed on such drivers in the past.
- Make clear that courts cannot combine a CCO with a suspended sentence or with imprisonment for more than three months, while validating sentences outside these requirements that have been imposed by courts to date.
The issue with alcohol interlock laws arose in 2006, when the legislation was amended to allow courts to direct VicRoads to impose an alcohol interlock condition when re-licensing a person who has been disqualified for drink-driving.
It has recently become apparent that the 2006 amendments only apply to those drink drivers who have been disqualified by a court order under section 50 of the Road Safety Act 1986. The amendments do not cover drink drivers who have been disqualified by a drink-driving infringement under section 89C of the Act.
However, the 2006 legislation was clearly intended to allow courts to require an alcohol interlock for those drivers also, and the courts have acted on the legislation accordingly.
The amendments being introduced tomorrow will therefore give effect to what the 2006 amendments were intended to achieve.
Similarly, the CCO amendments will put beyond doubt Parliament's intention in 2011 that CCOs can be combined with an actual term of imprisonment of up to three months, but cannot be combined with a suspended sentence.
Rather than require re-sentencing of offenders who have been sentenced outside these requirements, the amendments will validate the sentences that have already been imposed.
The legislation will also take the opportunity clarify the wording of the commencement provisions in the new CCO laws. The Court of Appeal has already upheld the commencement of the CCO laws on 16 January this year, but the Bill will amend the commencement provisions to remove any uncertainty.