Offences & Penalties Related to Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

, Offences & Penalties Related to Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Offences & Penalties Related to Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

The NSW road transport legislation is one of the most complex areas of law commonly applied in the Local Court.

From July 2013, the Roads Transport Act has consolidated statutory provisions from several pieces of legislation. The most common traffic offences that are dealt with in the Local Court are drink-driving offences, driving while disqualified, suspended or without a licence, negligent driving, and driving an unregistered vehicle. Of all of these, the most common traffic offences are Prescribed Concentration Alcohol (‘PCA’) offences. Specifically, mid-range PCA offences.

Traffic offences fall within two categories: Major offences and other offences. These have major implications in terms of penalty and disqualification period.

Major offences include:

  • All PCA offences,
  • Drug-affected driving offences,
  • Refusal to undergo breath or fluid testing,
  • Driving under the influence,
  • Negligent driving occasioning death or grievous bodily harm,
  • Dangerous or menacing,
  • Failing to stop and render assistance.

For most defendants, the loss of the licence is even more punishing than the formal penalty imposed by the Court. A leading criminal lawyer would be familiar with the standard and minimum periods of disqualification for driving offences and would be prepared to advise their clients and make submissions to the court concerning the client’s willingness to participate in a Traffic Offender’s Program.

The offence of driving with the PCA can be committed in places other than a road and road-related area. The elements that the prosecution need to establish are the defendant: drove; a motor vehicle; or occupied the driver seat of a motor vehicle; or while there was present in the defendant’s blood the PCA that being novice, special, low, middle or high range. The object of the road transport legislation is to protect the public by preventing people who are affected by alcohol that they are incapable of adequate control from driving motor vehicles. This is an offence of strict liability but not absolute liability, a person charged with a PCA may raise the issue of honest and reasonable mistake of (fact). Once the basis for such a mistake has been showed by the defendant, the onus is on the prosecution to negative the existence of an honest and reasonable mistake of fact beyond reasonable doubt: He Kaw Teh v R (1985).

Low Range PCA

A low range PCA of 0.05 g or more, but less than 0.08g, of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100mL of blood. The maximum penalty in the case of the first offence is 10 penalty units and statutory disqualification of six months, minimum three months

Middle range PCA

A middle range PCA is a concentration of 0.08g or more, but less than 0.015 g, of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 mL of blood. The maximum penalty in the case of the first offence is 20 penalty unity or nine months imprisonment or both and statutory disqualification of 12 months, minimum six months.

High range PCA

A high range PCA is a concentration of 0.15 g or more alcohol in 210 L of breath or 100 mL of blood. The maximum penalty in the case of the first offence is 30 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment or both and statutory disqualification of three years, minimum 12 months.

Case Study

A person was charged with high range PCA reading 0.155 and appeared before a Local Court with no legal representation. This person received a conviction; was disqualified from driving for 6 months; mandatory interlock for 12 months; and was placed on a Community Corrections Order (‘CCO’) for a period of 12 months. This person came to our office wanting to appeal this decision to the District Court. One of our leading criminal lawyers had the decision in the Local Court quashed and set aside where the person received a Conditional Release Order (‘CRO’) without conviction for a period of 12 months with special conditions.

Case Study

A person was charged with mid-range PCA reading 0.098 and appeared before a Local Court where they received a conviction; disqualified from driving for a period of 3 months; and a mandatory interlock for a period of 9 months. On appeal to the District Court, our leading criminal lawyer had this decision set aside and quashed. The District Court gave a penalty of a Conditional Release Order without conviction for a period of 24 months with no special conditions.

This is why National Criminal Lawyers® is the Best Criminal Law firm. Our criminal law defence lawyers are criminal law specialists in traffic offences. They are knowledgeable in traffic offences and understand the complexities of the road transport legislation

Book your first free appointment with National Criminal lawyers now.
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