Drink and Drug Driving Offences in NSW

Criminal legal

While the above outlines the legalities surrounding drug and alcohol-related driving offences in NSW

In New South Wales, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and their subsequent penalties are outlined clearly under the law. This article provides an overview of the various offences and their respective consequences.

Driving with a Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA)

    • This offence involves driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding the legally permitted limit. For most drivers in NSW, the limit is set at 0.05%. For learners or provisional drivers, however, no amount of alcohol is permitted in their system. Heavy vehicle drivers, often called special-category drivers, also have distinct rules.
    • Penalties vary based on the BAC level and whether it’s a first or subsequent offence. For instance, low-range offences (BAC under 0.08%) could lead to a minimum licence disqualification of 3 months. Without court intervention, this automatically becomes a 6-month disqualification.
    • Mid-range offences (BAC between 0.08% and 0.15%) for first-time offenders can result in a minimum 6-month licence disqualification, with an automatic 12-month disqualification and a potential 9-month jail term. These offenders will also face an immediate license suspension.
    • High-range offences (BAC 0.15% or more) could mean a 12-month minimum to a 3-year automatic license disqualification and an 18-month imprisonment. Immediate license suspension also applies.

Refusal to provide a sample

Not providing a blood or oral fluid sample can lead to a minimum 6-month disqualification or an automatic 3-year disqualification for first-time offenders.

Other Penalties:

Fines apply to the aforementioned offences. Repeated offences or severe DUI cases will carry more stringent penalties. Some offenders might be required to install an ignition interlock, which ensures the vehicle doesn’t start if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.

Drug-related Driving Offences in NSW

Driving with detectable levels of specific drugs in one’s system, including THC (cannabis), Methamphetamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), Cocaine, and Morphine (unless prescribed) is illegal. Proving impairment isn’t necessary; the mere presence of the drug is an offence.

  • A standard drug driving offence can lead to a 3-month minimum to a 6-month automatic license disqualification for first-time offenders, plus a fine—the penalties increase for subsequent offences.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs can result in a minimum 6-month to an automatic 12-month license disqualification and a fine for first-time offenders.

Mandatory Ignition Interlock

Serious or repeated drink-driving offences might necessitate a court-ordered ignition interlock. This device prevents vehicle ignition if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath. Typically, the interlock order lasts for at least 12 months after the disqualification period. After regaining driving privileges, those who fail to install this device could lose them for another 5 years. The cost, around $2,200 annually, falls on the offender.

Section 10 Disposition

Under certain conditions, the court may choose not to penalise for specific drink-driving offences. Instead, drivers might be placed on a Good Behaviour bond, and if its conditions are met, charges could be dismissed without a conviction. A Section 10 disposition isn’t a right but a court’s discretion. Factors considered include the driver’s character, age, health, the offence’s nature, circumstances surrounding the offence, and other relevant matters. Legal assistance is often crucial to seek this outcome.

In Conclusion

While the above outlines the legalities surrounding drug and alcohol-related driving offences in NSW, it is always recommended to seek legal advice for individual cases and to remain informed of any legal updates or changes.