Harsher Drink Driving Laws For The New Year
HARSHER DRINK DRIVING LAWS
According to the a media release since the beginning of the year there have been 330 deaths on NSW roads, 19 fewer than for the same time last year. 55 of the fatalities in last year’s road toll were alcohol-related crashes and 88 Drug related.
Seeing one in every seven NSW crashes has a link to drink-driving to try and curb the road toll number the New South Wales parliament has passed revised drink driving legislation, hitting drivers with harsher penalties for ‘low-range’ offences.
The new laws come into force at the end of 2018. Although they’re harsher than the existing New South Wales rules, the revised laws aren’t quite as strict as those in Victoria.
The following are the different types of Drink Driving charges in NSW.
- Novice (Zero alcohol reading 0.01-0.019);
- Special Range (over 0.02);
- Low Range PCA (0.05 – 0.079 reading);
- Mid-Range PCA (0.08 – 0.149 reading);
- High Range PCA (0.15 and above); or
- Refuse Breath Analysis
THE NEW NSW LAWS
The NSW Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey announced new reforms in September 2018, they come into effect now. Under the new laws, low-range offences will be met with a $561 fine and instant, roadside three-month license loss. The same penalties will also apply to first-time ‘drug presence’ offenders.
Drivers caught between 0.05 and 0.10 instantly lose their license for six months, and will be forced to complete a behaviour change program, and fit an alcohol interlock to their car.
Mid-range drink-drivers (those detected with a blood alcohol level between 0.08 and 0.15), will spend at least three months disqualified under the new law and they will also have an alcohol interlock device installed in their car for 12 months. An interlock device requires drivers to supply a clear breath test to start their vehicle’s ignition.
High-risk drink-drivers will also face harsher penalties and their number plates and vehicles will be taken from them for three months on the spot if found by police.
The new measures come after NSW Police established Strikeforce Puma, earlier this year, to hunt down notorious bad drivers.
The law concerning the offences of Drink Driving in the case called Re: Application by Attorney-General (No. 3 of 2002) (2004) 61 NSWLR 305) remains good law. Although the Guideline Judgment is in relation to offenders found guilty of high-range PCA, courts often refer to the principles and comments made by the judges in the Guideline Judgment when sentencing offenders charged with low range or mid-range PCA.
In the Judgment the nature and elements of the way sentencing must/should usually occur for the various levels of Drink Driving were set out as follows;
The Supreme Court said that the following factors aggravate the seriousness of the offence:
- The degree of intoxication;
- Erratic or aggressive driving;
- Competitive driving or showing off;
- Length of the journey at which others are exposed to risk; and
- The number of persons put at risk by the driving (for example, passengers in the vehicle).
The Supreme Court also made the following observations:
- Prior good character is of less relevance because persons of otherwise good character often commit these offences;
- Nature of the driving: Once the vehicle is in motion the offence is more serious because of the risk of death or injury to others is increased;
- Involvement in a driver education program: This will have little impact on the appropriate sentence to be imposed with high range PCA, except in relation to the length of disqualification or the amount of a fine.
The Court said that offence is “so serious and the criminality…so high” that the participation in a program cannot be seen as an alternative to punishment. It will not warrant the making of a section 10 simply because the offender has participated in such a program.
In terms of the period of disqualification, the automatic period is not the maximum, but merely a default period that operates on conviction unless some other order is made. The disqualification period can be longer. There should be “sufficient and appropriate reasons for reducing the automatic period”.
There will almost invariably be hardship, or at least inconvenience, caused by disqualification for such a lengthy period.
The Supreme Court said an ordinary offender for the offence of high-range PCA is where:
- 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; and/or
- the offender would be significantly inconvenienced by loss of licence
IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH DRINK/DRUG DRIVING?
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