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I have been charged with a drink-driving offence. Does the QLD Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program apply to me?

Potts Lawyers > Criminal Law & Offences  > I have been charged with a drink-driving offence. Does the QLD Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program apply to me?

I have been charged with a drink-driving offence. Does the QLD Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program apply to me?

We understand that the process of being charged with a drink-driving offence can be incredibly stressful. Not only do you need to consider the court process, but also any other consequences that may flow. Let’s consider the Queensland Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program and when it may apply to you.

Does the Queensland alcohol interlock program apply to you?

You will be required to complete the interlock program if you are charged and are found guilty or plead guilty to any of the following ‘high-risk’ drink-driving offences:

  • Drive, or attempt to put in motion or be in charge of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol;
  • Drive, or attempt to put in motion or be in charge of a vehicle with a blood/breath alcohol concentration of 0.10 or higher
  • Failing to provide a blood/breath specimen for analysis;
  • Dangerous driving while affected by alcohol; or
  • Two or more drink driving offences within a five year period.

What is an alcohol ignition interlock?

An alcohol ignition interlock is a device that is fitted to a vehicle’s ignition and prevents the vehicle from starting, unless a breath sample is provided, showing there is no alcohol in your system. You may be required to provide a breath sample at random intervals throughout your journey. The performance based program also requires you to install a camera, which will take a reference photo when first installed and a photo each time a sample of breath is taken.

When does the performance-based interlock program begin and what does it involve?

The interlock program takes effect from either the day after your driving disqualification period ends, or the day you apply and are granted with a work licence in court, once you have attended upon Qld Department of Transport and Motoring and obtained your probationary or work licence.

In most circumstances, you will be subject to the performance-based interlock program. This program requires that you take the following steps:

  1. Complete your disqualification period;
  2. Attend the Qld Department of Transport and Motoring and obtain your probationary licence with an interlock condition (code ‘I’);
  3. Have the interlock device installed by an approved interlock provider in the vehicle you intend to drive, at your own expense. You can have more than one ‘nominated’ vehicle fitted with an interlock if required (i.e. work and personal vehicle), however you can only drive the vehicle/s you have nominated.

You may also be required to undertake a driver education course as part of the interlock program.

Once the interlock device has been installed, there are two stages to the performance-based interlock program:

  1. Learning period – first eight months of the program
  2. Performance period – last four months of the program

During the interlock program, you must hold a current licence with an interlock condition, only drive a nominated vehicle with an interlock installed, have zero alcohol in your system whilst driving, attend all interlock service appointments and must not attempt to tamper with or bypass the interlock device.

Extension of interlock program

During the performance period of your program, your interlock use will be monitored for alcohol detection and you may be subject to permanent lockout of the device as a result of missed scheduled servicing. If you fail to comply with these requirements, the Department of Transport and Motoring will be notified and your four month performance period will restart every time you fail to comply.  

What if I decide not to participate in the interlock program?

If you decline to undertake the interlock program as required, you will be unable to obtain a drivers licence for 5 years from the date your disqualification period ends.

Consequences of non-compliance

Whilst subject to the interlock program, it is an offence to:

  • Drive a motor vehicle that is not fitted with a prescribed interlock, regardless of whether or not it was your nominated vehicle;
  • Drive a motor vehicle fitted with a prescribed interlock that was not your nominated vehicle;
  • Fail to provide a police officer with your exemption certificate upon request, unless you have a reasonable excuse for not doing so.

If you commit any of the offences listed above whilst subject to the interlock program, you may be liable to further punishment and subject to a further disqualification period.

Financial hardship

The costs of fitting, servicing and removing the interlock device can be significant. In some circumstances, you may be eligible for financial assistance to undertake the interlock program. You can find information on eligibility and make an application through the Department of Transport and Motoring website, up to six weeks before your disqualification period ends, or once you commence with the interlock program.

Exemption from the interlock program

You can apply for an exemption from participating in the interlock program in some limited circumstances. Examples include:

  • Residing in a significantly remote location;
  • Suffering from a medical condition that prevents you from providing a sufficient sample of breath to use an interlock device; or
  • Severe hardship.

In considering applications for exemptions, severe hardship does not allow consideration for applications where the interlock program would:

  • Prevent you from driving to or from, or during the course of your employment; or
  • Prevent you from driving to or from an educational institution that you attend.

Drink-driving offences prior to 9 September 2021

If you were convicted of a high-risk drink-driving offence before 9 September 2021 and your licence disqualification ended before 9 September 2021, the time-based interlock program would have applied to you, rather than the performance based program. The time-based program is no longer offered and has been replaced by the performance-based program in Queensland.

If you have been charged with a drink-driving offence, we recommend that you contact our traffic lawyers at the earliest opportunity and seek legal advice.


Reference Material

  1. Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld), Part 3B.
  2. Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Driver Licensing) Regulation 2021 (Qld), Chapter 12.
  3. Queensland Government: Department of Transport and Motoring, Alcohol Ignition Interlocks (Web Page, 25 September 2023) <>
  4. Saal v Department of Transport and Main Roads[2022] QCAT 329

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