Driving under the influence – reduction in the limits could have serious implications on your employment

November 12, 2014

in Employment


Employment: RelationsFrom the 1st December this year there will be a change in the current drink driving legislation for adult drivers.  There will be a significant reduction in the legal drink driving limits for drivers 20 years and over.

The current limit for adult drivers is 400 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. From December 2014 those limits will be reduced to 250mcg of alcohol per litre of breath and 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which will seriously restrict the amount adult drivers can consume before getting behind the wheel.

Under the new law, if a driver is stopped and fails a road side evidential breath test by a reading of between 251 and 400mcg they will automatically receive a $200 infringement notice and 50 demerit points and there will be no opportunity for the driver to elect a blood test. Any driver stopped with a reading over 400mcg will still have the election of an evidential blood test and will continue to face the usual criminal sanctions.

For employers or workers who are required to drive for the purposes of their employment, these changes could have a serious impact on their business. One potential pitfall is that your drug and alcohol policy is not sufficiently clear as to ensure that employees report road side infringements and demerit points under the new system.  Many alcohol and driving policies require employees to immediately report any “convictions” for drink or drug related incidents.  However as an infringement notice is not a conviction an employee could argue that there is no requirement to disclose this, particularly if the policy is unclear.

The accumulation of demerit points could also result in an employee’s inability to drive for the purposes of work and therefore seriously impede their ability to carry out their job. Such infringements could also have a detrimental impact on an employer’s work vehicle insurance.

It would therefore be prudent for employers to consider a re-write of their alcohol and/or driving policies, stating clear purposes and expectations when it comes to operating a work vehicle and consumption of alcohol and the requirement for disclosure of infringement offences.

Farry & Co are experts in employment law and can assist you in re-drafting your employment contracts and work place policies.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Kirsten Maclean
(03) 477 8870 or (09) 379 0055


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain.

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