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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 2677 ..


MR OSBORNE (11.01): I present the Motor Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) Amendment Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, little research has been done on repeat drink-drivers. However, what is known to date is quite alarming. It appears that the incidence of drink-driving has many common features in the Western world. For example, research indicates that between 65 and 75 per cent of the drink-drivers involved in fatal crashes in Australia either are repeat drink-drive offenders or had a very high blood alcohol content. The percentage is similar for New Zealand and the United States.

Studies completed recently on repeat drink-drivers in South Australia and Western Australia this decade show very similar results and comparable results to those for New Zealand, North America and Europe. These studies show that between 20 and 25 per cent of the drink-drivers convicted each year are repeat offenders and that 2 per cent are multiple repeat offenders.

We also know that about two-thirds of the repeat offenders are less than 25 years old. They would have been about 21 years of age when arrested for their first drink-drive offence; between 80 and 90 per cent of them were male; half had a high blood alcohol content - .08 or more; two-thirds were caught on the weekend, probably between the hours of 10.00 pm and 3.00 am; and 70 per cent were blue-collar workers, unskilled or unemployed.

Each year over 1,000 drink-driving convictions are recorded in the ACT Magistrates Court. Using national averages, this figure indicates that over the past 12 months in Canberra about 730 people were caught and convicted once, 125 people were convicted two times and an additional seven people were convicted at least three times. Not all those who drink alcohol are problem drivers and not all who drink and drive will continue to do so after their first offence, yet there are some drink-drivers who are nonetheless caught many times.

Another interesting statistic to factor in while considering drink-driving is the number of people in our community with an alcohol problem. A study last year by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that three-quarters of the adults in Australia are regular drinkers of alcohol and that 30 per cent of the population are harmful, heavy or binge drinkers. Applying this percentage to Canberra, it represents around 60,000 drivers on our roads with what many would consider to be an alcohol problem.

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