Drink Driving Charges in NSW
Drink driving is a serious offence that often comes with penalties and, in many cases, a criminal record. Different kinds of drink driving in NSW come with different penalties, and it’s essential to know your case and which penalties apply.
What Is a Drink Driving Offence?
A drink driving offence is a criminal offence received for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit. The severity of the offence depends on the BAC at the time of the breathalyser and the permission of the driver.
What Is a DUI Offence?
Driving Under the Influence Isn’t Limited to Alcohol
DUI stands for driving under the influence. You may be charged with a DUI if you are under the influence of illegal drugs, prescribed drugs, or alcohol while driving. If an officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may order a blood, urine, or saliva test and charge you with a DUI.
A DUI for drink driving in NSW does not involve a BAC or breathalyser test, either because the officer did not administer it at the right time or because it was not feasible under the circumstances.
DUI offences come with similar charges to PCA offences.
Types of PCA/DUI Offences
The severity of your penalty depends on your BAC at the time of the offence and whether it is a subsequent offence. Second offences usually come with increased fines, more extended disqualifications, and, in some cases, longer prison sentences.
Novice & Special Range PCA
In NSW, a Novice Range PCA is a BAC above 0.00 up to 0.019. The novice range PCA applies to anyone with a zero alcohol limit, usually those with a learner licence or a P1 or P2 provisional, probationary, or restricted licence.
Any person with a zero alcohol limit caught driving with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.049 may be charged with a special range PCA. This range also applies to bus and taxi drivers, who must keep a BAC below 0.02 while working.
A novice or special range PCA in NSW will have to attend court and can come with a court-imposed fine of up to $2200 and a penalty notice fine of $581. If charged, you may have a licence suspension for 3 to six months, and you may be subject to an Alcohol Interlock Order on the second offence.
Low Range PCA
A low-range PCA in NSW is an offence for driving with a BAC of 0.05 up to 0.08. A PCA in the low range may come with a court-imposed fine of up to $2200 and an additional penalty notice fine of $581. In addition, if charged, you may have your licence disqualified for three to six months and will be subject to an alcohol interlock order on the second offence.
Mid Range PCA
A mid-range PCA in NSW is an offence for alcohol impaired driving with a BAC of above 0.08 up to 0.149. This charge can come with a prison sentence of up to 9 months, a court-imposed fine of $2200, and a permanent disqualification of your licence. A mid-range PCA charge may subject you to an alcohol interlock order.
If you are convicted of this range of PCA, you will have your licence taken for at least six months and at least 12 months without a specific court order.
On the second offence, the court-imposed fine may be as high as $3300, the prison term may be as long as 12 months, and the disqualification is three years without a specific court order.
High Range PCA
A high-range PCA offence in NSW is when a driver is found driving with a BAC of 0.15 or higher. This charge can come with a court-imposed fine of $3300, a prison sentence of up to 18 months, and a permanent disqualification.
A charge with a high range PCA will have a minimum disqualification of 12 months. In the absence of a court order, the disqualification is three years. In addition, if you are charged with a high-range PCA, you may be subject to an alcohol interlock order.
On a second offence, the court-imposed fee will increase to $5500, and the prison term may be as long as two years.
Combined Drug and Alcohol Offences
As of 28 June 2021, a new law is in effect that was designed to target those with illegal BAC and illegal drugs in their system. The penalties for these charges are significantly higher. For example, a mid-range PCA usually comes with a maximum prison sentence of 9 months. However, a combined charge can result in as many as 18 months in prison.
Is Drink Driving a Criminal Offence? Will You Get a Criminal Record?
Yes It Is, and Yes You Will
Yes, drink driving in New South Wales is a criminal offence and will often result in the offender receiving a criminal record. In most cases, a drink driving conviction will appear in a NSW police check result.
What To Do if You Have Been Charged With a Drunk Driving Offence
Clear Your Name or Decrease Your Charges With the Right Legal Advice For Your Traffic Offences
If you have been charged with drink driving in NSW, it is essential to seek legal counsel. Legal counsel may be able to help you decrease your charges or minimise your disqualification.
If you were drink driving in NSW in the case of a medical emergency or had a BAC below 0.05, it is possible to dismiss charges in some cases. If you believe either of these examples applies to you, be sure to get the help of a legal team.
Drink Driving Differences Between States
In all states of Australia, the legal BAC is 0.05. A BAC under 0.08 is considered a low-range drink driving offence for non-restricted divers in most states. Most states have a zero alcohol limit (drunk drivers with an interlock device) for those with restrictions and professional drivers, partly aimed at curbing fatal crashes.
You may have to fight a drink driving charge, but you don’t have to fight alone. If you’re looking for help with your drink driving charge & an on the spot fine or any traffic law offence, you can find more information about what we can do or call our traffic lawyers in Sydney or trusted drink driving lawyers for a free consultation 24/7 at (02) 8005 3075.