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CRIMINAL LAW 

DRINK DRIVING

Drink driving offences are whereby a person has more than a prescribed concentration of alcohol within their system. In New South Wales it is an offence to have more than 0.05 in your system, unless you are a L or P plate driver, in which case, you cannot have any alcohol in your system.

 

The law sets out several tiers for determining the level of the offence and appropriate penalty: 

 

(a)Low Range Drink Driving

Low range drink driving is where a driver has a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 to 0.08.

 

The possible penalties for a first offence of low range drink driving are:

  • A Section 10 (see below) where there is no disqualification imposed;

  • An automatic disqualification of 6 months which can be reduced to as low as 3 months;

  • Fines of up to $1,100;

  • The usual sentencing options such as good behaviour bonds and community service.

 

(b)Mid-Range Drink Driving

Mid-range drink driving is where a driver has a blood alcohol reading of 0.08 to 0.15.

 

The possible penalties for a first offence of mid-range drink driving are:

  • A Section 10 (see below) where there is no disqualification imposed;

  • An automatic disqualification of 12 months which can be reduced to as low as 6 months or increased to an unlimited time;

  • Fines of up to $2,200;

  • Maximum imprisonment of up to 9 months;

  • The usual sentencing options such as good behaviour bonds and community service.

 

(c)High Range Drink Driving

High range drink driving is where a driver has a blood alcohol reading of more than 0.15 and is considered a very serious offence.

 

The possible penalties for a first offence of high range drink driving are:

  • A Section 10 (see below) where there is no disqualification period. This is a very rare result for this offence.

  • An automatic disqualification of 3 years which can be reduced to as low as 12 months or increased to an unlimited time;

  • Fines of up to $3,300;

  • Maximum imprisonment of up to 18 months;

  • The usual sentencing options such as good behaviour bonds and community service.

 

(d)Novel or Special Range Drink Driving

Novel or special range drink driver is where the driver should not have any level of alcohol in their system but have an amount lower than 0.05.

 

The possible penalties for a first offence of novel or special range drink driving are:

  • An automatic disqualification of 6 months which can be reduced to as low as 3 months;

  • Fines of up to $1,100;

  • The usual sentencing options such as good behaviour bonds and community service.

 

(e)Section 10

A section 10 is a sentencing option that is available to the court. It means that you are found guilty of the offence but you are not convicted.

The result of a section 10 is that you keep your licence and you do not have a criminal record.

Sometimes a section 10 may be imposed with a condition that you enter into a good behaviour bond.

(f)What Does the Court Consider?

In arriving at its decision the court will take into account a number of factors.

There is a guideline judgment that applies to high range drink driving matters which dictate various factors that are either positive or negative influences upon a case. In reality and in our vast experience, the courts impose these general rules to all drink driving matters.

 

Positive factors that could lead to leniency:

  • Pleading guilty the first time the matter is in court;

  • Completing a recognised Traffic Offenders Program;

  • Having a good driving record and a good criminal record;

  • Having a good character supported by good references;

  • A lack of features about your driving that brought you to the attention of the police;

 

Negative factors that could lead to a more severe punishment include:

  • Driving dangerously as a result of drink driving. If you have an accident and injure someone, this means that the court will deal with the matter more severely;

  • Having a poor overall driving record or a criminal record;

  • Not pleading guilty early.

WHAT NEXT?

 

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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