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  • The premise of the NSW Government’s ‘Towards Zero’ policy, to reduce the road toll by being tougher on alcohol and drug related offending, is to be commended.
  • There are concerns however, that the recent passage of the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Penalties and Other Sanctions) Bill 2018, maybe not be the right vehicle to achieve this laudable goal.
  • This article outlines several amendments to be aware of; the most contentious of which says police officers may now issue an infringement notice rather than a court attendance notice, to a motorist caught with a blood alcohol level within certain prescribed limits.
  • Concerningly, a number of the provisions in the new legislation effectively remove the court room process by disincentivising people from attending.

The NSW Government has a road safety policy called ‘Towards Zero’. It is said the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Penalties and Other Sanctions) Bill 2018,  which came into effect in NSW on 20 May, is part of this policy, designed to drive – no pun intended – the road trauma toll towards zero. But is this legislation the right vehicle to use? Will it succeed? I hope so, genuinely I do, but I fear it will not.

The Victorians have had similar legislation since 1994. The findings of a 2016 VicRoads report (VicRoads “The Effect of Sanctions on Victorian Drink-Drivers” Fri, 16 Sep 2016), showed recidivism (for low-range prescribed concentration of alcohol (‘PCA’)) to be in the region of 29 per cent, while similar calculations by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (‘BOCSAR’) demonstrated a recidivism rate of approximately 21 per cent in NSW. The Victorians even have mandatory traffic re-education as part of their regime. NSW does not, and still the Victorian recidivism rate is higher.

So how will the new NSW legislation work? There are several key features to be aware of.

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