Victoria Police Call For Zero Alcohol Limit For Under 26s

It's controversial, but so was breath testing 40 years ago.

11/07/2016 8:15 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:57 PM AEST

When random breath testing for drink drivers was introduced 40 years ago, it was labelled "controversial".

Now on its anniversary, Victoria Police want to start a conversation about extending the Learners zero blood alcohol limit to all drivers under 26.

This would mean there would be no safe amount of alcohol before driving for anyone aged 26 and under in the state.

Road Policing Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said it was sometimes worth making an unpopular decision to save lives.

"The introduction of breath testing, while controversial at the time, has had a direct impact on the number of lives lost on our roads," Fryer said.

AARON SAWALL / Fairfax Media
Victoria Police would consider extending drink driving laws.

"The presence of illegal amounts of alcohol in those fatally injured has continued to decrease over the years since its introduction -- from 49 percent in 1977, to 24 per cent in 2009 to 15 per cent in 2014."

Fryer said the introduction of a zero blood alcohol limit for all drivers 26 and under would be a continuation of that trend towards safer driving.

"We've come a long way, but it's time to look to the future," Fryer said.

"We know young drivers are at the highest at risk on our roads and they are consistently over-represented in alcohol related road trauma.

"A mixture of inexperience and self-determined invincibility leaves them exposed and extremely vulnerable to road trauma."

GREG TOTMAN / Fairfax media
When cops stop you for a breath test, it's part of a wider plan to increase road safety.

Fryer said that in 2014, of the 468 injured drink drivers blood tested in hospital, 31 percent were under 26.

Yet Victoria Roads Minister Luke Donnellan told the Herald Sun the government was not considering expanding drink-driving laws.

Victoria's Transport Accident Commission road safety senior manager Samantha Cockfield told The Huffington Post Australia any changes to drink driving laws would need to be supported by the community.

"I like that this discussion will bring up the question: do we need to drink and drive at all?" Cockfield said.

"We know that any alcohol in your system starts to impair driving and decision making skills but I'm not sure the winder community understands that."

Cockfield said there were other ways to reduce alcohol intake for young drivers.

"I'm not sure it's so much a matter of legislation but it is a matter of education," Cockfield said.

"At any age, after even a small amount of alcohol, you're not thinking clearly.

"I think Victoria could lead the way in this."

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