In 1989 the TAC became involved in mass media road safety advertising launching a series of television commercials showing the tragic results of drink driving. This is when that well known tagline - drink drive, bloody idiot – was born.
From the beginning, enforcement has been a key part of the deterring drink driving. The TAC has funded the purchase of booze buses for Victoria Police random breath tests, breath testers and other equipment to detect offenders.
A major aim of the TAC's drink driving advertising has been to emphasise the reality of being caught if you are over the limit and the severe penalties that follow.
More recently many people have ignored the dangers of mixing alcohol and driving and have continued to drive with lower, but still illegal, BAC. The excuse used is that driving "only a little bit over .05" is OK. This ignores the fact the risk of a crash is increased as drink drivers are more likely to speed, less likely to wear a seatbelt and less likely to take steps to prevent fatigue.
To combat this, the TAC introduced the Only a little bit over? campaign in December 2003. Here the key message is - if you drink and drive over the BAC limit, you are breaking the law and endangering the lives of innocent passengers and other road users.
In 1989, the year that the TAC commenced its campaigns, 114 drivers and riders died in road crashes with an illegal blood alcohol concentration. This figure had dropped to 42 in 2009.
Drink driving is one of the biggest killers on Victoria's roads. Almost a quarter of all fatal crashes in Victoria involve a driver or rider with an illegal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).
As drink driving has become more and more socially unacceptable, the TAC's drink drive campaigns are often aimed at low level drink drivers - those who think it is ok to be "just a little bit over" or at the legal limit.
Here are some common questions about drink driving limits.
What is BAC?
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in the body. BAC is measured in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.05. This means that a driver's body must contain less than 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. A driver's BAC is measured by a simple breath test procedure. Most people find it difficult to gauge their own blood alcohol level as there are so many factors that you need to consider.
- the amount of alcohol consumed
- the period of time over which alcohol is consumed
- your body mass
- whether or not you have eaten
- your fitness levels and
- the health of your liver.
Because everyone is different, some people need to drink less than the standard hourly recommendations to maintain a BAC level below the legal limit.
How does alcohol affect driving performance?
Driving is a complex task requiring decision making and total concentration. Alcohol affects a driver's ability to be totally in control of his or her actions.
BAC levels and their affects:
- 0.02 to 0.05 BAC - the ability to see or locate moving lights correctly is diminished, as is the ability to judge distances. The tendency to take risks is increased, and the ability to respond to several stimuli is decreased.
- 0.05 to 0.08 BAC - the ability to judge distances is reduced, sensitivity to red lights is impaired, reactions are slower and concentration span shorter. At 0.08 BAC drivers are five times more likely to have an accident than before they started drinking.
- 0.08 to 0.12 BAC - euphoria sets in, overestimation of one's abilities leads to reckless driving, peripheral vision is impaired (resulting in accidents due to hitting vehicles in passing) and perception of obstacles is impaired. Drivers are up to 10 times more likely to have an accident.
What is the current law relating to drink driving?
P plate drivers must have a BAC of zero. Drivers of heavy trucks, buses, trains and trams must maintain a zero BAC level while on the road in most of Australia. Motorcyclists in their first year of riding also must maintain a zero BAC while on the road. Penalties for drink-driving offences include disqualification from driving for a specified period, fines and imprisonment. In Victoria, a BAC reading of 0.15 or higher results in suspension of the driver's licence on the spot, until the case is heard in court. Since 13 May 2002 , Victorian courts can order anyone committing a repeat drink driver offence or driving with a BAC reading of more than 0.15 to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to their car, motorbike or truck ignition. See VicRoads for more details.