This ’emergency legislation’ was rushed through the Victorian parliament in the last few days. Introduced on the 6th December, it was read twice in a day and passed the Upper House two days later. It will take effect immediately after receiving Assent.
The new section 49B of the Road Safety Act 1986 will prohibit the consumption of alcohol by the driver of a motor vehicle.
It will read (in part),
49B Offence to consume intoxicating liquor while driving
(1) A person must not consume intoxicating liquor while the person is driving a motor vehicle or is in charge of a motor vehicle.
Penalty: 10 penalty units.
The reason for the haste is a mystery. Unlike previous events where a precipitating incident has led to a rush for reform, I don’t know of any particular incident that has prompted a public outcry about this issue.
During the second reading the A-G’s explanation was,
It is inconsistent with the road safety message to the community about drinking and driving that a driver can lawfully consume alcohol while driving a vehicle in Victoria.
The change will mean a significant cultural shift for those accustomed to buying a traveller for the trip home. It might also mean that police officers will have to caution a driver before asking questions intended to eliminate mouth alcohol as the cause of a positive preliminary test result.