Drink Driving Offences NSW & Drink Driving Penalties NSW

Drink Driving Offences NSW & Drink Driving Penalties NSW

Drink Driving Offences NSW & Drink Driving Penalties NSW

Drink Driving Offences NSW & Drink Driving Penalties NSW: In this epic “NSW DUI Court Bible” blog post we go into detail to examine the most common types of drink driving related offences and penalties in New South Wales.

Introduction - NSW DUI Offences & Penalties

It is important to understand that despite drink driving being among the most common criminal offences in New South Wales, and Australia for that matter, they are nevertheless criminal offences which can cause significant dangers to the community.  For this reason the Courts generally take a no nonsense approach and deliver swift and harsh penalties. In extreme circumstances and for constant repeat offenders the Court can and will issue terms of imprisonment to offenders, this sends a message to the public to show how serious drink driving offences are and likewise how seriously the Court deal with such offences. For the most part however people who present themselves before the Court on a drink driving related offence are usually there for the first or second time and will by and large be dealt with by way of a fine, a disqualification of drivers Licence and possibly a good behaviour bond, unless there are some serious aggravating features involved in which case the Courts have a range of other penalties and sentences at their disposal. Such other non-custodial penalties include good behaviour bonds, community service orders, intensive correctional orders, intervention programs plus a variety of other specific orders that the Court have the discretion to make.

Throughout this post we will look at what the law says in regards to these types of criminal drink driving offences by examining their specific legislative sections of law. In addition to this we will outline the penalties and sentences which are at the Courts disposal for the various types of drink driving related offences that we highlight.

By the end of this blog post you should have a better understanding of the dangers that can come from drink driving, you should also be more aware of the elements that make up some of the most common drink driving related offences and the various penalties that can come from those offences.

 

Drink Driving Dangers & Statistics in New South Wales

It is no secret that the act of drink driving can be dangerous and have disastrous consequences. This is obvious from what we see advertised and horrific news stories we see and hear about on a daily basis, but do we really know the facts and statistics behind the effects of drink driving? Let us take a look at a few of these issues which really give us a true understanding of the gravity and effects that come from drink driving:

  • Amongst those crashes in which the alcohol involvement was known, alcohol was a contributing factor in 56% of fatal crashes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, 23% of all fatal crashes, 6% of injury crashes and 5% of all crashes.
  • At least 4% of all motor vehicle drivers and motorcycle riders who were killed or injured had an illegal blood alcohol concentration. Forty-four per cent of these casualties were in the high range (0.15 g/100mL or more).

Zero alcohol limit

The Road Transport Act 2013, prescribes a zero alcohol limit in NSW for novice licence holders commencing. The zero alcohol limit means learner, provisional P1 and provisional P2 licence holders may not consume any alcohol before driving. Relevant tables in this statement incorporate the zero alcohol limit (novice range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) and special range PCA offences).

Drink Driving Offences & Penalties in New South Wales

Offences:

The most common types of drink driving related offences in Australia are the ones where a driver is pulled over by Police and they are subjected to a breath analysis which shows that their level of blood alcohol is above the legal blood alcohol thresholds.
In New South Wales these types of offences are called Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol also known as PCA. The law has placed specific blood alcohol limits in place which carry a variety of different penalties. Some PCA offences are specific to a person category of drivers licence.
The following types of PCA offences exist:
  • Special Range PCA
  • Novice Range PCA
  • Low Range PCA
  • Middle Range PCA
  • High Range PCA

 

We will go in to further detail of elements which need to be proven to find a person guilty of such an offence, later in this article.

Other common drink driving offences other than PCA offences include:

  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Refuse Breath Test
  • Refuse Breath Analysis
  • Willfully alter blood concentration

Penalties:

New South Wales Magistrates have a large range of penalties and sentences at their disposal when dealing with a drink driving related offence.

For many drink driving offences the Magistrate will issue a defendant with non-custodial types of penalties, these are penalties which do not attract a term of imprisonment. Such non-custodial penalties can include the following:

CRIMES (SENTENCING PROCEDURE) ACT 1999
Division 3 – Non-custodial alternatives

8. Community service orders.

9. Good behaviour bonds.

10. Dismissal of charges and conditional discharge of offender.

10A. Conviction with no other penalty.

11. Deferral of sentencing for rehabilitation, participation in an intervention program or other purposes.

12. Suspended sentences.

13. Community service orders and good behaviour bonds to be alternative penalties only.

Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) Offences & Penalties in New South Wales

Below we will briefly outline the elements that need to be proven by the Police in order to successfully charge someone with a PCA offence.

Novice Range PCA

The specific law reads as follows from the Road Transport Act Act 2013:           

“Section 110 (1) – Offence-novice range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

A novice driver must not, while there is present in his or her breath or blood the novice range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

(a)        drive the motor vehicle, or           

(b)        occupy the driving seat of the motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion.”

Novice range PCA is a drink driving charge that is issued on a person when they deliver a Blood Alcohol Concentration of above 0.00 but below 0.020 (0.00 to 0.019). Any person who is subject to a 0.00 alcohol limit while driving may be charged with a novice range PCA offence.Generally speaking, the novice range PCA offence will usually be applied to a driver who has some type of special licence such as a P1 licence or a P2 licence. If a person is driving without a licence due to suspension or disqualification then they are also subjected to the novice range PCA limit.

Special Range PCA

The specific law reads as follows from the Road Transport Act 2013:           

“Section 110 (2) – Offence-special range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

A person must not, while there is present in his or her breath or blood the special range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

(a)        if the person is a special category driver in respect of a motor vehicle drive the motor vehicle, or           

(b)        if the person is a special category driver in respect of a motor vehicle occupy the driving seat of a motor vehicle and    attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion, or           

(c)        if the person is a special category supervisor in respect of a motor vehicle and the holder of a driver licence (other than a provisional licence or a learner licence) – occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.”

Special range PCA is a drink driving charge that is issued on a person when they deliver a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.020 or higher but below 0.050 (0.020 to 0.049). Any person who is subject to a 0.00 alcohol limit or special alcohol limit while driving may be charged with a special range PCA charge.Generally speaking, the special range PCA offence will usually be applied to a driver who has some type of special licence such as a P1 licence or a P2 licence. The special range limit will also apply to bus drivers and taxi drivers whilst they are in operation of their work vehicle. 

Low Range PCA

The specific law reads as follows from the Road Transport Act 2013:           

“Section 110 (3) – Offence-low range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

A person must not, while there is present in his or her breath or blood the low range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

(a)        drive a motor vehicle, or           

(b)        occupy the driving seat of a motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion, or           

(c)        if the person is the holder of a driver licence (other than a provisional licence or a learner licence)-occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.”

Low range PCA is a drink driving charge that is issued on a person when they deliver a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.050 or higher but below 0.080 (0.050 to 0.079). 

Middle Range PCA

The specific law reads as follows from the Road Transport Act 2013:           

“Section 110 (4) – Offence-middle range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

A person must not, while there is present in his or her breath or blood the middle range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

(a)        drive a motor vehicle, or           

(b)        occupy the driving seat of a motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion, or           

(c)        if the person is the holder of a driver licence (other than a provisional licence or a learner licence)-occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.”

Middle range PCA is a drink driving charge that is issued on a person when they deliver a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.080 or higher but below 0.150 (0.080 to 0.149). 

High Range PCA

The specific law reads as follows from the Road Transport Act 2013:           

“Section 110 (5) – Offence-high range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

A person must not, while there is present in his or her breath or blood the high range prescribed concentration of alcohol:           

(a)        drive a motor vehicle, or           

(b)        occupy the driving seat of a motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion, or           

(c)        if the person is the holder of a driver licence (other than a provisional licence or a learner licence)-occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.”

High range PCA is a drink driving charge that is issued on a person when they deliver a Blood Alcohol Concentration over the 0.150 blood alcohol limit. 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Offences & Penalties in New South Wales

These are other common drink driving related offences which are not categorized under a specified blood alcohol range.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

The specific law reads as follows from the Road Transport Act 2013:

“Section 112 – Use or attempted use of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other drug:           

(1)        A person must not, while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug:                       

(a)        drive a vehicle, or                       

(b)        occupy the driving seat of a vehicle and attempt to put the vehicle in motion, or                       

(c)        being the holder of a driver licence (other than a provisional licence or a learner licence), occupy the seat in or on a motor vehicle next to a holder of a learner licence who is driving the motor vehicle.           

(2)        If a person is charged with an offence under subsection (1):                       

(a)        the information may allege the person was under the influence of more than one drug and is not liable to be dismissed on the ground of uncertainty or duplicity if each of those drugs is described in the information, and                       

(b)        the offence is proved if the court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was under the influence of:                                   

(i)         a drug described in the information, or                                   

(ii)        a combination of drugs any one or more of which was or were described in the information.”

The offence of driving under the influence differs from an offence of driving with PCA because it is generally proven through the observations of police or witnesses. Other surrounding circumstances and factors are taken in to account such as the person’s breath smelling of intoxicating alcohol, glazed or red eyes, slurred speech, swaying or unsteady on feet, or being involved in car accident.When the police lack the evidence of being able to produce evidence of a blood alcohol concentration result they will often rely upon this section of the law to charge a person for driving a motor vehicle whilst being intoxicated by alcohol. Instead of providing scientific evidence (breath analysis results) police will rely upon police and witness observations to try and prove their case against you in court.

Refuse Breath Test, Refuse Breath Analysis & Wilfully Alter Blood Alcohol Offences & Penalties in New South Wales

Refuse Breath Test

The specific law reads as follows:           

Section 16 (1) A person must not, when required to do so by a police officer under this Part, refuse or fail: 

(a) to submit to a breath test under Division 2 in accordance with the officer’s directions”

The offence of refusing a breath test comes about whether the driver of a motor vehicle refuses or fails to provide a sample of breath to the police when directed to do so. Generally, this offence will occur when a driver refuses or fails a road side breath test which occurs prior to police conducting a breath analysis.

Refuse Breath Analysis

The specific law reads as follows:           

Section 16 (1) A person must not, when required to do so by a police officer under this Part, refuse or fail: 

(b) to submit to a breath analysis under Division 2 in accordance with the officer’s directions”

This offence is more serious that refusing a breath test. It is committed by a person who is the driver of a motor vehicle and refuses or fails to provide a sufficient breath sample by way of a breath analysis. Generally, you will be offered 3 attempts to provide a sufficient sample and failure or refusal will result in this charge being issued. You are required to follow police directions to provide such a sample and it cannot be used as a defence to say that you wish to first seek legal advice.

Wilfully Alter Blood Concentration

The specific law reads as follows:

“(1) A person (other than a secondary participant in an accident) must not wilfully do anything:

(a) to alter the concentration of alcohol in the person’s breath or blood between the time of the event referred to in clause 3 (1) (a), (b) or (c) in respect of which the person has been required by a police officer to submit to a breath test under Division 2 and the time when the person submits to that test, or

(b) to alter the concentration of alcohol in the person’s breath or blood between the time of the event referred to in clause 3 (1) (a), (b) or (c) in respect of which the person has been required by a police officer to submit to a breath test under Division 2 and the time when the person submits to a breath analysis under that Division, or

(e) in the case of an accident involving the person-to alter the concentration of alcohol in the person’s blood (except at the direction or under the supervision of an appropriate health professional) between the time of the accident concerned and the taking of a sample of the person’s blood in accordance with Division 4.”

When a person purposely consumes a substance in order to alter the level of blood alcohol in their breath or blood between the time of the event of driving and the time in which they are tested. For example a person would be charged under this law if they were involved in a car crash and during the time they were waiting for the police to arrive they wilfully consumed more alcohol.It is a law which has been put in place to prevent people from saying that at the time of the car crash they were sober and decided to consume alcohol after the crash when they were driving the vehicle.

 

Drink Driving Penalties in New South Wales Drink driving/DUI penalties in NSW – First major offence within 5 years

Offence Maximum Fine Maximum Jail Automatic Disqualification Minimum Disqualification
Novice Range PCA $1,100 Nil 6 months 3 months
Special Range PCA $1,100 Nil 6 months 3 months
Low Range PCA $1,100 Nil 6 months 3 months
Middle Range PCA $2,200 9 months 12 months 6 months
High Range PCA $3,300 18 months 3 years 12 months
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) $2,200 9 months 12 months 6 months
Wilfully Alter Blood Concentration $3,300 18 months 3 years 12 months
Refuse Breath Analysis $3,300 18 months 3 years 12 months
Refuse Breath Test $1,100 Nil 6 months Nil

 

You need to understand that if you have been convicted of a “Major Offence” within the last 5 years then this means that the Court must deal with your current drink driving matter in a specific way where the penalties and sentences are dramatically increased.

The increase in penalties is mandatory according to the law and Magistrates must act in accordance with these laws. In other words the Magistrate does not have the discretion to not apply the increased penalties and sentences as outlined under the law.

As mentioned above your penalties and sentences for your existing charge will be increase if you have a prior Major Offence on your record within the past 5 years.

So what is a Major Offence which activates these harsher penalties.

Well according to the Road Traffic Act 2013 NSW the definition of a “Major Offence” is:

“major offence” means any of the following crimes or offences:

(a) an offence by a person (the “offender” ), in respect of the death of or bodily harm to another person caused by or arising out of the use of a motor vehicle driven by the offender at the time of the occurrence out of which the death of or harm to the other person arose, for which the offender is convicted of:

(i) the crime of murder or manslaughter, or

(ii) an offence against section 33, 35, 53 or 54 or any other provision of the Crimes Act 1900 ,

(b) an offence against section 51A, 51B or 52AB of the Crimes Act 1900 ,

(c) an offence against section 110 (1), (2), (3) (a) or (b), (4) (a) or (b) or (5) (a) or (b),

(d) an offence against section 111, 112 (1) (a) or (b), 117 (2), 118 or 146,

(e) an offence against section 117 (1) of driving a motor vehicle negligently (being driving occasioning death or grievous bodily harm),

(f) an offence against clause 16 (1) (b), 17 or 18 of Schedule 3,

(g) an offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of, or being an accessory before the fact to, any crime or offence referred to in paragraph (a)-(f),

(h) any other crime or offence that, at the time it was committed, was a major offence for the purposes of this Act, the Road Transport (General) Act 2005 , the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 or the Traffic Act 1909 .

In common terms this means that the following offences will be considered as “major offences“:

  • Novice Range PCA
  • Special Range PCA
  • Low Range PCA
  • Middle Range PCA
  • High Range PCA
  • Drive with presence of drugs in oral fluid, blood or urine
  • Driving Under Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
  • Negligent Driving
  • Dangerous, Furious or Reckless Driving
  • Drag Racing
  • Menacing Driving
  • Refuse Breath Analysis
  • Failing to stop and assist after impact causing injury
  • Offences-refusal or failure to provide samples or preventing sample taking
  • Offences-wilful introduction or alteration of concentration or amount of alcohol or other drugs

 

Other offences may be considered “Major Offences” however these are the main offences. As previously mentioned if you have been convicted of a major offence within the past 5 years then you must expect increased penalties and sentences. Please see the table below for a summary of the penalties and sentences that exist for second offences within a 5 years period.  

 

Drink Driving/DUI Penalties in NSW – Second major offence within 5 years

Offence Maximum Fine Maximum Jail Automatic Disqualification Minimum Disqualification
Novice Range PCA $2,200 Nil 12 months 3 months
Special Range PCA $2,200 Nil 12 months 3 months
Low Range PCA $2,200 Nil 12 months 3 months
Middle Range PCA $3,300 12 months 3 years 6 months
High Range PCA $5,500 2 years 5 years 12 months
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) $3,300 12 months 3 years 6 months
Wilfully Alter Blood Concentration $5,500 2 years 5 years 12 months
Refuse Breath Analysis $5,500 2 years 5 years 12 months
Refuse Breath Test $1,100 Nil No specific2nd or subsequent

Summary

As you can see from what we have discussed above, there are many things to know and understand when you go through the Court system in New South Wales dealing with a drink driving related offence. It has to be understood that drink driving offences are among the most common offences brought before the Courts each day and for this reason the Court are quick to hand down harsh penalties which can throw your how life into chaos if you are unable to be mobile and operate a motor vehicle.

 


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Drink Driving Offences NSW & Drink Driving Penalties NSW:

For more information on dealing with Drink Driving Offences NSW & Drink Driving Penalties NSW check out the “NSW DUI Court Bible”


 

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