Page 1156 - Week 03 - Thursday, 31 March 2011

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Turning to the details of this bill, many of the provisions in this bill relate to the enforcement of the zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driver trainers. Last year, the government introduced amendments to impose a zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on driving instructors, driving supervisors and heavy vehicle driver assessors, collectively known as driver trainers in the bill, while they are accompanying a learner driver.

The rationale for these amendments was twofold: firstly, driver trainers, particularly parents who act as driving supervisors, are important role models for learner drivers. Learner drivers’ attitudes and behaviours towards driving are influenced not just by what they are told but by what they observe driver trainers doing themselves. Secondly, driver trainers need to retain some degree of control over the vehicle and the driver so that they can intervene when a dangerous situation arises. The driver trainer cannot exercise effective control of the situation if he or she is impaired by alcohol or drugs or both.

The introduction of a zero BAC for driver trainers involved two related sets of amendments in the 2010 amendment bill. Firstly, the bill provided for these people to be included in the list of special drivers in section 4B of the act. Secondly, the amendments provided that the prescribed concentration of alcohol for a special driver was reduced from 0.02 to zero. However, the 2010 bill did not specifically apply the random breath-testing or drink-driving offences under the act to driver trainers, so the zero alcohol limit for driver trainers has not been enforced thus far.

The bill gives effect to the intention of last year’s amendments by ensuring that the zero BAC for driver trainers can be enforced through random breath-testing provisions and through the drink-driving offences under the act. The bill also applies the random drug-testing provisions and the new drug-driving offences to driver trainers, as the rationale for prohibiting impairment by alcohol while undertaking driver training responsibilities applies equally to impairment by illicit drugs.

All other Australian jurisdictions, except Western Australia and Tasmania, apply their drink and drug-driving laws to driver trainers, and the majority of these jurisdictions have set a low or zero alcohol limit for driver trainers.

The bill clarifies the application of different levels of alcohol concentration to drivers who hold licences issued in foreign countries. The purpose of these amendments is to ensure that certain foreign driver licence holders are subject to the same BAC as a person who holds an ACT licence of a corresponding class. Not every foreign country has corresponding classes of licence and the bill makes it clear that a person is regarded as holding a foreign licence of a corresponding class if the person’s licence was issued by a country that is on the list of countries recognised by Austroads as having standards for driver licensing that are equivalent to Australia’s standards.

Foreign drivers whose licences are not issued by a recognised country will be regarded as special drivers and subject to a zero BAC. The zero BAC is imposed on these drivers because the standard of driver training required to gain a licence in the country that issued the person’s driver licence is not known. It cannot be assumed that

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