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DRINK DRIVING (NSW)

30 June 2020

In Australia, the most prevalent offences while driving under the influence of alcohol, is when the driver is pulled over by the Police and asked to submit to a breath test. There is a legal requirement that all drivers must adhere to a limit of alcohol, usually dependent on the type of license a person holds, which is the concentration of alcohol in the blood. There is a legal threshold that requires all drivers to be under. If a driver has a blood alcohol level higher than the threshold, the offences, commonly referred to as PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol) have a number of penalties which can be applied, again, may be dependent on the type of licence a driver holds at the time of the offence.

These PCA offences come under the following:

  • Special Range PCA
  • Novice Range PCA
  • Low Range PCA
  • Middle Range PCA
  • High Range PCA

While PCA offences are the most prevalent, there are other offences involving the consumption of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. These include:

  • Refusing to be breath tested by Police
  • Refusing the breath analysis done by Police
  • Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
  • Intentionally altering the concentration of alcohol in the blood

There are also other driving offences:

  • Driving whilst suspended, cancelled or disqualified.
  • Driving in a manner or speed dangerous to the public.

SPECIAL RANGE PCA

There are a few categories of drivers that fall under these requirements for driving on a public road:

  • P1 or P2 licence holders;
  • Driver who has been denied a licence to drive;
  • Driver who has never had a NSW licence but has a licence or permit to drive outside NSW;
  • Driver of dangerous goods or substances;
  • Suspended or cancelled licence holder;
  • A driver of a vehicle that is being driven for hire;
  • A coach or heavy motor vehicle driver/license holder (above 13.9 tonnes);
  • A driver that has been disqualified from driving a motor vehicle.
  • The driver that falls under Special Range must not have a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of more than 0.02 grams but less than 0.05 grams.

PENALTY:

  • First Offence:
    • The offender may receive a criminal conviction recorded against them;
    • The minimum disqualification period is 3 months;
    • The maximum disqualification period is 6 months;
    • The financial penalty is a maximum of $1100.
  • Second and any ongoing offences:
    • The offender may receive a criminal conviction recorded against them;
    • The minimum disqualification under the Interlock program is 1 month;
    • The maximum disqualification under the Interlock program is 3 months;
    • The financial penalty is a maximum of $2200.

NOVICE RANGE PCA

There are a few categories of drivers that fall under these requirements for driving on a public road:

  • Learner (L) or provisional (P) licence holder;
  • Driver who has been denied a driving licence;
  • Driver who has never had a NSW licence but has a licence or permit to drive outside NSW;
  • Driver of dangerous goods or substances that is required to have warning signs;
  • Suspended or cancelled licence holder;
  • A driver of a vehicle that is being driven for hire or reward;
  • A coach or heavy motor vehicle driver/license holder;
  • A driver that has been disqualified from driving a motor vehicle.

The driver that falls under Novice Range must not have a BAC of above 0.00 grams but less than 0.02 grams. These drivers are commonly known to be subjected to a zero-alcohol limit while driving.

    PENALTY:

    • First Offence:
      • The offender may receive a criminal conviction recorded against them;
      • There is an automatic disqualification period of 6 months – the Magistrate can reduce this to 3 months;
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $1100.
    • Second and any ongoing offences:
      • The offender may receive a criminal conviction recorded against them;
      • Minimum disqualification period of 1 month;
      • Maximum disqualification period of 3 months;
      • Interlock participation for up to 12 months;
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $2200.

    LOW RANGE PCA

    The drivers that fall into this category are:

    • Full license to drive a motor vehicle on a public road.

    The driver that falls under Low Range PCA will have a BAC of between 0.05 grams and 0.079 grams.

    PENALTY:

    • First Offence:
      • The offender may receive a criminal conviction recorded against them;
      • There is an automatic disqualification period of 6 months – the Magistrate can reduce this to 3 months;
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $1100.
    • Second and any ongoing offences:
      • Minimum disqualification period of 1 month;
      • Maximum disqualification period of 3 months;
      • Interlock participation for up to 12 months;
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $2200.


    MIDDLE RANGE PCA

    The drivers that fall into this category are:

    • Full license to drive a motor vehicle on a public road.

    The driver that falls under middle range PCA will have a BAC of between 0.08 grams and 0.15 grams.

    PENALTY

    • First Offence:
      • A criminal conviction will be recorded against the driver’s name;
      • Minimum disqualification period is 6 months
      • The maximum prison sentence is 9 months;
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $2200.
    • Second and any ongoing offences:
      • A criminal conviction will be recorded against the driver’s name;
      • The minimum disqualification period under the Interlock program is 6 months but has a maximum of 9 months;
      • Participation in the Interlock program for 2 years;
      • The maximum prison sentence is 3 years.
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300.

    HIGH RANGE PCA

    The drivers that fall into this category are:

    • Full license to drive a motor vehicle on a public road.

    The driver that falls under the high range PCA will have a BAC above 0.15 grams.

    PENALTY

    • First Offence:
      • A criminal conviction will be recorded against the driver’s name;
      • The minimum disqualification period under the Interlock program is 6 months.
      • Maximum disqualification period under the interlock program is 9 months;
      • Participation in the Interlock program for 2 years;
      • The maximum prison sentence is 18 months.
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300.
    • Second and any ongoing offences:
      • A criminal conviction will be recorded against the driver’s name;
      • The minimum disqualification period under the Interlock program is 9 months.
      • Maximum disqualification period under the interlock program is 12 months;
      • Participation in the Interlock program for 4 years;
      • The maximum prison sentence is 2 years.
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $5500.

    DRIVING WHILST SUSPENDED, CANCELLED OR DISQUALIFIED

    • Driving while cancelled:
      • First offence:
        • Automatic disqualification period of 6 months
        • Minimum disqualification period is 3 months
        • Maximum jail sentence of 6 months
        • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
    • Second and any subsequent offences: (within 5 years)
      • Automatic disqualification period of 12 months
      • Minimum disqualification period is 6 months
      • Maximum jail sentence of 12 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
    • Driving while disqualified:
      • The following are possible outcomes:
        • Community Service Order
        • Good Behaviour Bond
        • Home Detention
        • Custodial Sentence
        • Fine
        • Suspended Sentence
        • Intensive Corrections Order
        • Section 10 Dismissal
        • Section 10 Bond
        • Section 10A
    • First Offence:
      • Automatic disqualification period of 6 months
      • Minimum disqualification period is 3 months
      • Maximum jail sentence of 6 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
    • Second and subsequent offences: (within 5 years)
      • Automatic disqualification period of 12 months
      • Minimum disqualification period is 6 months
      • Maximum jail sentence of 12 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $5500
    • Removing licence disqualification:

    There are a few reasons why the court will decide to remove the disqualification of a driver’s licence. Drivers must prove their application before the court will consider the removal of disqualification of a licence, in the following ways:

    • The driver themselves or representative must make the application to the court
    • The driver has not committed any driving offences for a period of time
    • The driver must complete the time frame for no offences to have been committed
    • The court reserves the right to make a decision that removing the disqualification is the best course of action

    The court will determine all of these points specific to each individual and their criminal record thus far.

    • Driving while suspended:
      • First Offence:
        • Automatic disqualification period of 6 months
        • Minimum disqualification period is 3 months
        • Maximum jail sentence of 6 months
        • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
    • Second and any subsequent offences
      • Automatic disqualification period of 12 months
      • Minimum disqualification period is 6 months
      • Maximum jail sentence of 12 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
    • Driving while unlicensed:
      • Never having held a license
      • Not having held a license for the previous 5 years
    • First Offence:
      • Maximum fine of $2200
      • Infringement Notice Fine of $815.00
    • Second and any subsequent offences: (within 5 years)
      • Automatic disqualification period of 12 months
      • Minimum disqualification period is 3 months
      • Maximum jail sentence of 6 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
    • Registration Offences:
      • Unregistered vehicle – fine of $2200
      • Uninsured vehicle – fine of $5500
      • Cancelled or suspended licence due to a fine default:
        • First offence
        • Disqualification period of 3 months
        • Maximum jail sentence of 18 months
        • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
      • Cancelled, suspended or disqualified licence:
        • First offence
        • Disqualification period of 1 year
        • Maximum jail sentence of 18 months
        • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
      • Cancelled, suspended or disqualified licence:
        • Second offence and subsequent offences
        • Disqualification period of 2 years
        • Maximum jail sentence of 2 years
        • The financial penalty is a maximum of $5500
    • Learner Driver Unaccompanied:
      • A maximum disqualification period of 12 months
      • A mandatory disqualification period of 3 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $2200

    DRIVING IN A MANNER OR SPEED WHICH IS DANGEROUS TO THE PUBLIC

    The court will look at such factors as:

    • The nature of the driving
    • The condition of the road being used
    • How the road is usually used by the general public

    Once these factors cannot be proven by the driver, the following penalties can be sanctioned by the court:

    • First Offence:
      • Minimum disqualification period of 1 year
      • Maximum disqualification period of 3 years
      • A maximum jail sentence of 9 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $2200
    • Second and any subsequent offences:
      • Automatic disqualification period of 5 years
      • Minimum disqualification period of 1 year
      • A maximum jail sentence of 12 months
      • The financial penalty is a maximum of $3300
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