Drink driving laws and penalties
Having the right lawyer for your drink driving matter can make a big difference to the outcome of your case. We have experience in drink driving matters with a record of obtaining exceptional results.
Drink driving convictions can stay on your record for up to 10 years, unless sentenced with a section 10 non conviction or conditional release order without conviction. This will allow you to keep your drivers licence and keep driving.
Automatic and minimum periods of disqualification apply when convicted with a drink driving offence, which can include the mandatory interlock program for a period of the disqualification.
You have the options of pleading guilty or not guilty in court for a drink driving charge. It is recommended that you speak to our drink driving lawyer before you enter a plea as this can affect the final result.
Blood alcohol concentration limit
There are several categories to drink driving charges. The drink driving charge will depend on the blood alcohol concentration reading and type of licence you hold.
The limit for for an unrestricted licence holder is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 and no more.
A learner, provisional licence or interlock driver licence holder is not allowed to drive with any blood alcohol concentration.
Ranges of drink driving
This includes novice range drink driving, low range drink driving, mid-range drink driving, high range drink driving and special range drink driving.
Special, Novice or Low range drink driving
If you commit a special, novice range or low range drink driving offence in NSW, Police can immediately suspend your licence.
- If it's your first offence, your licence can be suspended for 3 months and you may be issued an on-the-spot fine of $581. No imprisonment applies.
- Special-range drink driving is an offence when you drive a motor vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.02g, and less than 0.05g and hold a learner, provisional or interlock drivers licence.
- Novice range drink driving is an offence when you drive a motor vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0 and less than 0.02g and hold a learner, provisional or interlock drives licence.
- Low range drink driving is when you drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.050 and less than 0.08g.
- Automatic 6 months or minimum 3 months, interlock device doesn’t apply.
- Maximum court imposed fine $2,200.
Second or Subsequent Offence
- 1 year Automatic or minimum 6 months, with minimum 1 month or maximum 3 months interlock device.
- Maximum court imposed fine $3,300.
Mid-Range drink driving
A mid-range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) offence is when a driver is found to have a blood alcohol above 0.08 and less than 0.15. An immediate licence suspension applies.
- 9-months imprisonment (maximum)
- 6 month driver licence disqualification which can be reduced to 3 months by the court, 12 month interlock device.
- Maximum court imposed fine $2,200
If you are found to be exempt by the court from the interlock device an automatic disqualification of 12 months applies which can be reduced to 6 months by the court.
Second or Subsequent Offence
- 12 months imprisonment (maximum)
- 9 month driver licence disqualification which can be reduced to 6 months by the court, 2 year interlock device.
- Maximum court imposed $3,300
If you are found to be exempt by the court from the interlock device an automatic disqualification of 3 years applies which can be reduced to 12 months by the court.
Mid-range drink driving and non-convictions
If you receive a non-conviction sentence for your mid-range drink driving offence there will be no licence disqualification, fine, interlock or criminal record, where the court imposes a section 10 non conviction, or conditional release order without a conviction. Talk with our drink driving lawyer about the particulars of your case.
High range drink driving
A high range prescribed concentration of alcohol offence is when a driver is found to have a blood alcohol concentration above 0.15. An immediate licence suspension applies.
- 18-months imprisonment (maximum)
- 9 month driver licence disqualification which can be reduced to 6 months the court, 2 year interlock device
- Maximum court imposed fine $3,300
Second or Subsequent Offence
- 24 months imprisonment (maximum)
- 12 month licence disqualification which can be reduced to 9 months by the court, 4 year interlock device.
- Maximum court imposed fine $5,500
It is important and recommended to speak to a drink driving lawyer for guidance and advice prior to your court date.
What is a guideline judgement?
Guideline judgments are court decisions that give guidance to judges in relation to how they should sentence offenders. One purpose of guideline judgments is to reduce inconsistency in sentencing and help to make sure like cases are treated alike.
In High range drink driving matters the court will consider the guideline judgements which are:
- the offender drove to avoid personal inconvenience or because the offender did not believe that he or she was sufficiently affected by alcohol;
- the offender was detected by a random breath test;
- the offender has prior good character;
- the offender has nil, or a minor, traffic record;
- the offender’s licence was suspended on detection;
- the offender pleaded guilty;
- there is little or no risk of re-offending;
- the offender would be significantly inconvenienced at loss of licence.
These factors will be taken into account before the court determines the outcome of your case.
Repeated drink driving offences
Drivers convicted of two drink driving offences in a 5-year period must pass the Driver Knowledge Test before they can be licensed to drive again.
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