Drink Driving Laws & Penalties in Victoria

Criminal legal

The penalties for drink driving vary depending on the type of offence committed and the number of previous offences committed by the offender

The most common offence is mid-range PCA (prescribed concentration of alcohol), which is an offence where a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is between 0.10 to 0.149%. This can result in a fine of up to $2,200 and/or a maximum imprisonment period of nine months. Additionally, individuals may receive 10 penalty points or have their license suspended for up to six months.

High-range PCA occurs when a person’s BAC is over 0.150%. These types of offences carry heavier punishments including fines up to $3,300 and/or imprisonment periods of up to one year with 12 penalty points and suspension periods of up to nine months being added onto this sentence as well.

Repeat offenders will be punished more harshly than first time offenders with administrative penalties such as having their license revoked for five years imposed should they violate multiple drink driving laws consecutively or within a year from each other.

In addition to court-enforced penalties, Victoria has implemented additional measures meant to restrict dangerous drivers from using motor vehicles while intoxicated such as an Alcohol Interlock Program which requires offenders to install Breath Analysis devices into their cars that will stop the car from operating if any traces of alcohol are detected in their breath sample while driving; Felony Drunk Driving Law which labels any subsequent offences within 10 years as felonies that may lead to longer sentences; and License Revocation On Arrest law which automatically revokes the license of any driver found over the legal BAC limit at roadside tests without requiring further testing or proceedings in court.

Going To Court For A Drink Driving Offence

Going to court for a drink driving offence in Victoria can be a nerve-wracking experience. Drinking and driving is a serious offence that carries hefty fines and possible jail time, depending on the severity of the case. This article will provide an overview of what you need to know when going to court in Victoria for a drink driving offence.

Victoria’s Road Safety Act 1986 sets out the legal requirements for drink driving offences and outlines the different types of offences (including exceeding the blood alcohol concentration limit or refusing to submit to a breath or blood test). In addition, different penalties are depending on whether it is your first offence or a subsequent offence. In some cases, those charged with drink driving offences may be eligible for diversion programs as an alternative to criminal prosecution.

When attending court, it is important to remember that you have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions if you choose not to do so. It is also important to dress appropriately and arrive on time, as this can make an impression on the judge or magistrates deciding your case. You should also be prepared with any evidence or statements from witnesses that could help your case.

In most cases involving drink driving offences, police will have provided evidence from breath tests taken at the scene that will be used against you in court. If you choose to plead guilty, both sides will present their evidence and attempt to reach an agreement (known as ‘plea bargaining’). If no agreement is reached, then your case will proceed where both sides argue their respective positions before the judge or magistrate makes a decision based on all of their findings and arguments presented by both parties.

Keep in mind that while going through this process can be intimidating, every person who appears in court has certain rights that must be respected by all involved – including you! Regardless of your situation, it’s important to ensure that these rights are maintained throughout your trial proceedings.

What Are My Options If I Have To Go To Court?

Plead guilty

The prosecutor will read the statement of alleged facts during the court hearing. The magistrate will decide if you’re guilty and sentence you.

A magistrate might give you a lighter sentence if you plead guilty because it shows you’re cooperating.

Plead not guilty

You have to tell the prosecutor if you don’t think you broke the law, or you don’t agree with what’s in the statement of alleged facts, before your court date. Before your case goes to court, they’ll hold a summary case conference with you. After the conference, you can tell the magistrate if you still want to plead not guilty. The magistrate will then adjourn (put off) the case.

If you get charged with breaking the law, you’ll go to court for a contested hearing. The magistrate listens to evidence from you and the police before making a decision. You’ll need an argument to defend yourself. You can’t say that you didn’t know you were breaking the law.

Get legal advice if you’re pleading not guilty.

Possible Defences

It is a defence if:

  • you were not the driver of the vehicle or
  • if the alcohol test was taken more than three hours after you were driving.

It is not a defence to say that you thought you were under the limit.

Can I adjourn my hearing?

Getting a lawyer, for example, is a good reason to ask the magistrate to adjourn (put off) your case.

When you arrive at court, tell the staff you want a hearing adjourned. If you have never adjourned your case before, you may be able to get one without going into court.

What Are The Penalties If I Am Found Guilty?

Losing your licence

The magistrate usually cancels your license and disqualifies you from driving for a while. It depends on your charge, when it happened, and how bad you were. Drink drivers are getting harder to catch. If you’re caught after 29 April 2018, your license or permit will be revoked.

It depends on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if you’re charged with exceeding the limit.

For P plate drivers or taxi drivers whose BAC is less than 0.05, the magistrate must cancel your license and disqualify you from driving for three months.

The minimum license cancellation is three months if you got an infringement for drink driving and you’re over 26, fully licensed, and your blood alcohol content is under 0.07.

Your license will be revoked and you’ll be banned from driving for at least a year if your reading was 0.070 per cent or higher:

  • 6 months if BAC 0.05 or more but less than 0.10
  • 10 months if BAC 0.10 or more but less than 0.11
  • 11 months if BAC 0.11 or more but less than 0.12
  • 12 months if BAC 0.12 or more but less than 0.13
  • 13 months if BAC 0.13 or more but less than 0.14
  • 14 months if BAC 0.14 or more but less than 0.15
  • 15 months if BAC 0.15 or more but less than 0.16
  • 16 months if BAC 0.16 or more but less than 0.17
  • 17 months if BAC 0.17 or more but less than 0.18
  • 18 months if BAC 0.18 or more but less than 0.19
  • 19 months if BAC 0.19 or more but less than 0.20
  • 20 months if BAC 0.20 or more but less than 0.21
  • 21 months if BAC 0.21 or more but less than 0.22
  • 22 months if BAC 0.22 or more but less than 0.23
  • 23 months if BAC 0.23 or more but less than 0.24
  • 24 months if BAC 0.24 or more.

Disqualification periods can be extended and reduced by the magistrate, but if it’s your second offence in ten years, it’s doubled.

Do not drive after you lose your licence

A disqualification period doesn’t allow you to drive. There aren’t any special licences you can get.

Behaviour change programs

A behavior change program is required for all drivers caught drink driving.

You’ll get a letter from VicRoads telling you which program you need to complete based on your blood alcohol content (BAC) and whether you’ve been arrested before for drunk driving or drug driving.

Fines for drink driving above the limit

First-time offenders usually get a fine, up to 20 penalty units.

Immobilizing, impounding, or confiscating your car

If you’re caught drunk driving and your BAC is over 0.10, your car might be impounded.

Do not drive after you lose your licence

A disqualification period doesn’t allow you to drive. There aren’t any special licences you can get.

Behaviour change programs

A behavior change program is required for all drivers caught drink driving.

You’ll get a letter from VicRoads telling you which program you need to complete based on your blood alcohol content (BAC) and whether you’ve been arrested before for drink driving or drug driving.

Fines for drink driving offences 

First-time offenders usually get a fine, of up to 20 penalty units.

Immobilizing, impounding, or confiscating your car

If you’re caught drink driving and your BAC is over 0.10, your car might be impounded.

What else might happen if I am found guilty?

A driving conviction can be added to your criminal record. It’s usually on your VicRoads driving record, but it can also be added to your criminal record.

When the police can suspend your licence

The police can suspend your licence if you are:

  • on a full licence and your BAC reading was 0.10 per cent or more
  • a P-plate or learner driver and your BAC reading was 0.07 per cent or more.
  • charged with a refusal offence
  • caught drink or drug driving before within the last 10 years.

Despite the name, this is not always an immediate suspension. It could take 12 months for this to happen. The suspension lasts until the suspension notice expires or until your case is heard.

You’ll usually get backdated disqualification if the magistrate cancels your license and disqualifies you from driving.

Alcohol Interlocks

When a driver drinks alcohol, an alcohol interlock prevents the vehicle from starting while it measures and records the amount of alcohol on their breath.

Vehicles have these devices and drivers are required to blow into them before starting them. If the driver is drunk, the vehicle won’t start.

When an alcohol interlock is used

In most cases, if you’ve been disqualified for drink driving, VicRoads will fit your vehicle with an interlock. Once you’ve served the minimum disqualification period, you can apply for a new license. To get a new license, you have to:

  • complete a behaviour change program, and
  • have an alcohol interlock device fitted to their vehicle.

Depending on what the driver was disqualified for, an interlock licence will last at least six months.


A lot of drivers had to get another license after theirs had been revoked for drink driving before 1 December 2019. Depending on the kind of offence and when the offence happened, the court could decide not to impose an interlock condition on some of these drink driving offences.

When VicRoads doesn’t grant an interlock license to a driver whose license was cancelled for one of these old offences, they can appeal to the Magistrates’ Court.

Alcohol interlock exemption on medical grounds

It might be a good idea for a driver to get an interlock exemption from VicRoads. It will be necessary for them to get a report from a registered specialist health practitioner explaining why they can’t use the interlock. When driving, exempt drivers still need a zero BAC.

VicRoads may require the person to be tested to see if they are fit to drive at all.

You could get fined and lose your interlock licence if you don’t follow the rules.

Getting an interlock removed

An interlock condition on your license can’t be removed until you’ve served the minimum interlock period and followed the rules.

In 2019, all drivers will have to apply to VicRoads to get their interlocks removed.

In deciding if you can get your interlock removed, VicRoads will look at the data on your interlock device. You’ll have to prove you don’t drive while drunk. The Alcohol Interlock Management System (AIMS) stores information about your interlock use, including camera images. Your interlock can be removed if VicRoads uses this data.

Before VicRoads considers removing an interlock condition, some drivers need to complete a two-hour pre-interlock removal behavior change program.

After you apply, VicRoads will send you an interlock removal authority and a new licence that you have to show to the interlock service agent.

How To Get Your Licence Back

The majority of people who get caught drink driving will have to go to VicRoads to get their licence back after serving the minimum period.

Re-licensing is required for those who were disqualified for a serious driving offence, like dangerous driving that caused death or dangerous driving when being chased by police.