Law

Understanding Drink Driving Offences

When you have been charged with a drink driving offence, understanding what the offence means for you, your next steps and possible penalties can be pretty daunting. This is why it is essential to utilise the best drink driving lawyers who are able to provide legal advice specific to your case and circumstances, give knowledge on the legalities involved and represent you in Court.

What Are Drink Driving Offences Defined As?

Drink driving offences are considered to be criminal offences, meaning the offence will be on your criminal record if you are found to be guilty of the offence.

In Australia, the legal alcohol limit that drivers need to be under is 0.05 to be able to legally drive. In New South Wales, there are five level ranges of BAC ranges, which all have differing penalty ranges alongside minimum and maximum license suspension periods. The five level ranges for BAC are:

  • Novice range (0.00 to 0.019)
  • Special range (0.02 to 0.049)
  • Low range (0.05 to 0.079)
  • Mid-range (0.08 to 0.149)
  • High range (0.15 and above)

In New South Wales, there is a legal limit of 0.05 PCE for drivers with a full license, which means that notice and special ranges are not an offence for these individuals and relating to Learner drivers, Provisional 1 drivers and Provisional 2 drivers.

Drink Driving Offence Penalties

To be found guilty of a drink driving offence, Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were in control of a motor vehicle at the time and your PCA was above an acceptable level for your license type at the time of the offence.

If you have been founding guilty of a drink driving offence within the novice, special or low range and it is the first time with a drink driving offence, the maximum fine penalty is $2,200 with a license disqualification of 3 to 6 months.

If this is a subsequent offence within a 5-year period, the penalties for novice, special and low range drink driving offences will be more severe. The maximum fine penalty increase to a maximum of $3,300, with license disqualification and a 12-month mandatory interlock program, will be implemented.

A first-time offence for a mid-range drink driving PCA incurs penalties such as a maximum fine of $2,200 and potential 9 months imprisonment. The license disqualification period ranges from 3-6 months with a mandatory interlock program being implemented. For subsequent offenders within the mid-range in a five-year period, the maxim fine increases to $3,300, with potential 12 months imprisonment, 6-9 months disqualification and the mandatory alcohol interlock program will be increased to a duration of two years.

A first-time offender for a high range drink driving PCA incurs penalties such as the maximum fine amount of $3,300 and potential 18 months imprisonment, 9-12 months license disqualification and a mandatory 24-month alcohol interlock program. A subsequent offender within 5 years within the high range will incur more severe penalties of an increased maximum fine of $5,500, 2 years maxim imprisonment, 9-12 month disqualification period and a 4-year mandatory interlock program.

There are further factors to consider when a Court imposes penalties for drink driving offences which include:

  • The degree of intoxication
  • Length of journey
  • Number of passengers who were at risk
  • Competitive driving
  • Erratic or reckless driving

Lawyers may be able to assist the offender with receiving a Section 10 dismissal, which refers to when the selected lawyer persuades the Court not to record the conviction of the drink driving offence. When you have been found guilty and a Section 10 dismissal is successful, you will not receive a record of your conviction and you will receive no penalties such as fines or license disqualification. When a Section 10 is considered, several factors will be considered, including:

  • Your age
  • Criminal record
  • Your character
  • Any relevant extenuating circumstances
  • The nature of the offence
  • Your health and mental condition

How Drink Drivers Are Penalised At Local And State Levels

In New South Wales, since drink driving convictions are commonly heard of traffic offences, the matters are generally dealt with in the Local Court. Lawyers may be able to utilise the defence of honest and reliable mistake for a drink driving offence in certain circumstances.

For this defence to be used, it must be proved that there is mistaken belief around the offence. Drink driving offences may be successful when a drink driving lawyer uses this defence if the offence is related to alcohol consumption found in everyday items or foods, which impacted the driver’s PCA.

Reach Out To Reputable Lawyers Today

It is important to reach out to reputable and experienced Sydney criminal lawyers to gain assistance when you or a family member has been convinced of a drink driving charge. A qualified lawyer can assist with providing the relevant knowledge and education you require to understand your conviction, the potential penalties and the process of Court hearings as well as provide support and recommended legal advice.

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