Alcohol, drugs and driving

ALRC Report 4 considered the problems in the application of the laws of the Australian Capital Territory designed to control the driving of motor vehicles by persons who had consumed alcohol or other intoxicating drugs.

The report inquired into technical matters such as procedures and types of equipment for breath and other testing, the correlation between breath alcohol and blood alcohol levels and the relevance of tests conducted for impaired driving at an earlier time. The report also discussed the desirability of retaining an option for blood tests, methods of dealing with drug impairment and the desirability of introducing random tests.

The report concluded that there were a number of serious flaws with the existing ACT legislation. It recognised that these flaws had resulted in the position that drivers were not being prosecuted for alcohol concentration offences unless the blood alcohol level was 0.165 per cent. The report argued this to be unacceptably high and inconsistent with the safety of the community.

Key recommendations

  • ALRC Report 4 recommended that breath tests be the main method of testing in the ACT, but that random tests not be introduced.
  • It suggested new legislation be enacted to clarify flaws in the existing legislation.


The ALRC’s recommendations in Alcohol, Drugs and Driving were implemented with minor amendments in the Motor Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1977 (ACT). Random breath testing was introduced to the ACT in 1982.