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Drink Driving Penalties

Drink Driving Offences are Not Limited to Public Roads

Those caught driving with a BAC over the legal limit face heavy fines and loss of licence and, for the most serious offenders, possible imprisonment. It’s also an offence to:

  • drive under the influence of alcohol
  • refuse to provide a breath or blood sample or to stop at a booze bus (or Random Breath Test station), or fail to cooperate when a breath or blood test is being conducted
  • be .05 BAC or over while accompanying a learner driver.

Drink Driving Offences & Penalties

Infringement notices are only issued for first offences. Traffic infringement notices are not issued for subsequent drink driving offences, or for drink driving offences with a BAC of .15 or above. Charges are laid for the offence and the matter is dealt with at court. For a first offence, the authorities can choose to issue you with an infringement notice or take you to court.

In 2012 - 2013, one penalty unit is $140.84. Refer to the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for the yearly value of penalty units.

The penalties for drink driving traffic infringement notices are set out below:
 

BAC Licence type

BAC Licence type

BAC Licence type

BAC Licence type

Less than .05

Zero BAC licence (e.g. professional drivers, P licence, L permit) 2.5 penalty units

2.5 penalty units

2.5 penalty units

.05 to less than .07

Zero BAC licence (e.g. professional drivers, P licence, L permit) and full licence (under 26 years)

3 penalty units

Cancellation of licence/permit and disqualification for 6 months

.05 to less than .07

 

Full licence (26 years or older)

3 penalty units

10 demerit points

.07 to less than .15

All drivers

3 to 4.25 penalty units

 

Cancellation of licence/permit and disqualification for 6-14 months depending on BAC

0.15 or above;
or for a  subsequent offence

All drivers

 

Traffic infringement notices are not issued for BAC of .15 or above, or for subsequent offences. Charges are laid for the offence and the matter is dealt with at court.

Attend Magistrates’

Demerit Points and Novice Drivers:

Learner and probationary drivers have a demerit point threshold of five demerit points within a 12 month period (in addition to the standard 12 point threshold within a three year period). This means that an offence attracting 10 demerit points will result in an automatic four month licence suspension, unless the driver takes the ‘double or nothing’ option and incurs no more demerit points within the next 12 months.

On the Spot Suspension:

Authorities have the power to immediately suspend your licence or learner permit in certain situations. Examples include learner or probationary drivers with a BAC of .07 or more, full licence holders with a BAC of .10 or more, and repeat offenders. The length of suspension depends on the circumstances - for example, it could last until the charges have been decided at court.

Choice to Appear in Court:

If you choose to have your case heard in court (or if the matter is dealt with by charges instead of an infringement notice) and the court finds you guilty, the court may fine you and cancel your licence or learner permit for up to six months (for offences with a BAC under .05), or for at least six months (for offences where the BAC is at least .05 but less than .07). For a BAC of .07 or more (.05 or more for subsequent offences) the court must cancel your licence or learner permit for at least six months (first offence)/14 months (subsequent offences).

Compulsory Court Appearance:

For offences with a BAC of .15 or more, where the case must be heard by the Magistrates’ Court, if found guilty, your licence or learner permit will be cancelled for at least 15 to 48 months, and higher financial penalties will apply. Those committing the most serious offences and repeat offenders face possible imprisonment.

The penalties for repeat drink driving offenders have been substantially increased with the maximum penalty now 18 months in prison. Offenders in these categories may have an alcohol interlock licence condition imposed when they are relicensed.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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