Driving under the influence of alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit constitutes a drink driving offense. There are a number of serious consequences associated with drink driving offences, including heavy fines, suspension or cancellation of licences, imprisonment, or other punishments.
Depending on your BAC level, license type, and previous DUI convictions, penalties for drink driving may vary. In Queensland, the legal limit for most drivers is 0.05%. However, certain drivers must always maintain a zero BAC, such as:
- Learner drivers
- Provisional or probationary drivers
- Drivers of particular vehicles, such as trucks, buses, taxis, limousines, or vehicles carrying dangerous goods
The following penalties will apply if you are caught drink driving in Queensland:
|Blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC)||Licence disqualification||Maximum fine amount||Maximum term of imprisonment|
|Over 0.00, but under 0.05 BAC (learner, probationary or provisional licences, and drivers of particular motor vehicles)||3 to 9 months||$2,167||3 months|
|0.05 and over, but under 0.10||1 to 9 months||$2,167||3 months|
|0.10 and over, but under 0.15||3 to 12 months||$3,096||6 months|
|0.15 and over||Minimum of 6 months||$4,334||9 months|
Depending on your BAC level, the penalties are more severe if you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. This indicates that your ability to drive was impaired due to alcohol. DUI carries a maximum sentence of 18 months imprisonment or 120 penalty units ($19,826.40) in fines.
In addition, if you refuse to undergo a breath test, the penalties are also more severe because you failed or refused to provide a sample of your breath upon police request. Refusing a breath test could result in up to 18 months in prison, 120 penalty units ($19,826.40) in fines, or both.
In the event that you are caught drinking and driving and cause death or serious injury to another person, you will be charged with driving dangerously, resulting in the death or grievous bodily harm of another person. This is a very serious offence that can result in 14 years in prison, or up to 20 years in prison if you have been adversely affected by intoxicating substances.
You should seek legal advice if you have been charged with a drink driving offence or if you wish to contest the charge. Drink driving is a complex area of the law, and being charged can have serious consequences for your life and livelihood.
There are two types of drug driving offenses in Queensland:
- Intoxication while driving due to the presence of a relevant drug in the oral fluid, blood, or urine
- Drunk or drugged driving
These offences are subject to the Transportation Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 Queensland (TORUM Act) and carry serious penalties, such as fines, disqualification from driving privileges, and imprisonment.
Driving with the presence of a relevant drug
Drivers are guilty of this offence if they are found to be in possession of any relevant drug in their oral fluid, blood, or urine.
- Cannabis contains an active ingredient called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
- Ecstasy is a drug containing MDMA (the active ingredient)
- The substance methylamphetamine (also known as ice or speed)
By taking a saliva sample from the driver, the police can conduct a random drug test on the side of the road. It is mandatory for the driver to provide another saliva sample as well as blood or urine samples for further analysis if the saliva test is positive. Once the results of the analysis have been received, the driver must not drive.
There is no requirement for the police to prove that the driver was impaired by the drug or that they drove in an unsafe manner. Any amount of the relevant drug in the driver’s system suffices to establish the offense.
Driving while under the influence of a relevant drug carries a maximum penalty based on a driver’s prior convictions for similar offenses within the past five years. In the absence of any previous convictions, the maximum penalty is 14 penalty units ($1,957) or three months imprisonment. The maximum penalty, however, increases to 28 penalty units ($3,914) or six months imprisonment if the defendant has one or more previous convictions.
Additionally, the court must impose a disqualification period for the driver to hold or obtain a driver’s license for a period of at least one month for open licence holders, and for three months for provisional or learner licence holders. Based on the severity of the offense and the driver’s traffic history, the court may impose a longer period of disqualification.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or any drug
Drivers impaired by alcohol or other drugs while driving or in charge of a vehicle are guilty of this offence. For the purpose of determining the level of impairment of the driver, the police may require that they undergo breath testing, saliva testing, blood testing, or urine testing. Additionally, the police can rely on other evidence, such as the driver’s appearance, behavior, speech, and performance during roadside tests.
If a driver is under the influence of alcohol or a drug, this can have a significant impact on their ability to operate a vehicle safely. The level of impairment may vary based on a number of factors, such as:
- What type of substance has been consumed and how much has been consumed
- Consumption frequency and time
- Driver’s body weight and metabolism
- Interactions between drugs or substances
- Tolerance and experience of the driver
If a driver has any previous convictions for a similar offense within the last five years, the maximum penalty may be imposed for driving under the influence of alcohol or any other substance. Without any prior convictions, the maximum penalty is 28 penalty units ($3,914) or 9 months in prison. In the event of a previous conviction, the maximum penalty increases to 60 penalty units ($8,379) or 18 months imprisonment.
Besides these punishments, the court must also prohibit the driver from obtaining a driver’s license for at least six months. The court may impose a longer period of disqualification, based on the seriousness of the offense.
There may be defences available to a person who is charged with drug driving in Queensland. These may include:
- Inadequate knowledge or control of the vehicle
- Error of fact that is honest and reasonable
- In the event of duress or necessity
- Emergency situations