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Alcohol Interlock Program

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The Alcohol Interlock Program is where a court orders a driver to have a device installed into his or her vehicle whereby a breath sample must be provided before the ignition can activate.

An alcohol interlock order must be made where a driver is convicted for mid or high range drink driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol (an ‘alcohol DUI’), unless the court grants an exemption.

Alternatively, a driver can request an alcohol interlock order to ensure they spend as little time off the road as possible.

In that case, the driver will normally spend a reduce ‘disqualification period’ followed by an ‘interlock compliance period’ – where they can drive their vehicle if it is fitted with an approved device and they have obtained an interlock driver licence.

If an interlock order is made, the driver must arrange and pay for the installation of the approved device.

How Does the Alcohol Interlock Program Work?

An alcohol interlock order is made on the day of a person’s sentencing proceedings.

The court will prescribe a certain minimum period whereby the driver must not drive at all (known as the disqualification period) followed by an interlock compliance period – during which he or she can drive the interlock-fitted vehicle.

The driver will need to obtain an interlock driver licence once his or her vehicle has been appropriately fitted.

Will I be Placed On the Alcohol Interlock Program?

Certain offences attract a ‘mandatory interlock order’, which means the driver must comply with the interlock program unless granted an exemption.

Mandatory interlock orders apply to all high range and mid range drink driving convictions, and to driving under the influence (or ‘DUI’) where alcohol is involved.

An exemption may be granted where an interlock order would cause ‘severe hardship’ or where it is otherwise appropriate in the circumstances.

Where an order is not mandatory, the court may order participation on application by the driver or of its own accord.

The court will specify a minimum disqualification period – during which a person cannot drive at all – followed by a period during which he or she can drive provided the approved interlock device is installed and the driver is licensed.

The applicable periods are:


Disqualification period (cannot drive at all)

Interlock period (can drive with an interlock device)

Disqualification period where an exemption order is made

Applies to offences committed on or after

Low, novice or special range PCA – second or more offence in 5 years Min: 1 month

Max: 3 months

12 months Automatic: 12 months

Min: 6 months

1 Feb 2015
Mid range PCA – first offence Min: 3 months

Max: 6 months

12 months Automatic: 12 months

Min: 6 months

3 Dec 2018
Mid range PCA – second or more offence in 5 years


Min: 6 months

Max: 9 months

24 months Automatic: 3 years

Min: 12 months

1 Feb 2015
High range PCA – first offence Min: 6 months

Max: 9 months

24 months Automatic: 3 years

Min: 12 months

1 Feb 2015
High range PCA – second or more offence in 5 years Min: 9 months

Max: 12 months

48 month Automatic: 5 years

Min: 2 years

1 Feb 2015
Drive under the influence of alcohol – first offence Min: 6 months

Max: 9 months

24 months Automatic: 3 years

Min: 12 months

3 Dec 2018
Drive under the influence of alcohol – second or more offence in 5 years Min: 9 months

Max: 12 months

48 months Automatic: 5 years

Min: 2 years

3 Dec 2018
Refuse to provide a sample – first offence Min: 6 months

Max: 9 months

24 months Automatic: 3 years

Min: 12 months

1 Feb 2015
Refuse to provide a sample – second or more offence in 5 years Min: 9 months

Max: 12 months

48 months Automatic: 5 years

Min: 2 years

1 Feb 2015

Can I Get an Exemption from an Alcohol Interlock Order?

Although the alcohol interlock program is described as ‘mandatory’ for specified offences, the court has the power to ‘exempt’ a person from the program and impose a (normally longer) disqualification period instead.

However, the court can only do this where a person (or a lawyer on his or her behalf) demonstrates that:-

For the offence of mid-range drink driving:

  1. An interlock order would cause severe hardship, and
  2. An interlock exemption order is more appropriate in all of the circumstances.

For other offences:

  1. You do not have access to a car, and
  2. You have a medical condition which prevents you from providing a sufficient sample of breath and the interlock device cannot be modified to accommodate for this.

To establish you do not have a car, you will normally need to show that:

a) You are not the owner, part owner or registered operator of a car,

b) You do not share a car with an owner, part owner or registered operator,

Or if you are either of the above:

c) It is nevertheless unreasonable to require you to install the device.

The application for an exemption is made during the sentencing proceedings in court, which is after you’ve entered a plea of guilty or been found guilty of the relevant offence.

How Much Does the Program Cost?

The costs associated with the program must be paid by the participant and include:

  • installation of the alcohol interlock device
  • monthly device leasing fee
  • regular servicing
  • device removal fee

The costs are generally between $2000 and $2500 per year.

However, a concession discount of 35% may apply to those who are on a pension, have a low income health care card or have a department of veteran affairs gold card.

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.

Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:

  1. Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results

    Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.

    Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.

    Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.

    We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.

    Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.

  2. Highest Level of Client Satisfaction

    We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.

    Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.

    We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.

    We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.

  3. Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm

    We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.

    The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.

  4. Fixed Fees

    We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.

    We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.

    Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.

  5. Free First Appointment

    For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.

    We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.

  6. Specialist Lawyer Guarantee

    We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court.

    This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.

  7. All NSW Courts

    From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.

    And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.

  8. Accredited Specialists

    Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.

    All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.

    An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.

    Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.

    Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.

  9. Results-Focused Law Firm

    Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.

    The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’.

    Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.

    No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.

    The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.

  10. Team of Lawyers Behind You

    Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide.

    Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.

    A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.

    In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.

  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges

    Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.

    Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.

  12. Convenience

    We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD offices, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.

    For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.

    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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