Drink driving refers to the act of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the legal limit. It also includes driving while impaired by alcohol, even if the BAC is below the threshold. This applies even if alcohol's influence on driving is minimal.
There are six main categories of drink driving offences, each with distinct implications. These categories include:
1. High-Range Drink Driving: Operating a vehicle with a significantly high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
2. Mid-Range Drink Driving: Driving with a BAC that falls within the mid-range limits.
3. Low-Range Drink Driving: Driving with a lower BAC, still exceeding the legal limit.
4. DUI (Driving Under the Influence): Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
5. Special Range Drink Driving: A charge for drivers with a special license category, such as taxi drivers, operating with a BAC higher than allowed.
6. Special Range Drink Driving: A charge for drivers with a special license category, such as taxi drivers, operating with a BAC higher than allowed.
7. Novice Range Drink Driving: Applicable to drivers who hold a learner, provisional, or probationary license and have any level of alcohol in their system.
Convictions in any of these categories can lead to a criminal record, fines, license disqualification, and even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence.
PCA, which stands for Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol, refers to the legal limit of alcohol concentration allowed for drivers operating a vehicle. Exceeding this prescribed limit is considered an offence and can result in penalties.
When facing a drink driving charge, the outcome can involve a criminal conviction. However, in certain cases, the court has the discretion to impose penalties that do not result in a formal conviction. For instance, the Magistrate or Judge may choose to apply a section 10 dismissal or a Conditional Release Order without a conviction. This alternative outcome can help individuals avoid having a criminal record as a result of the offence.
Drink Driving Limits Based on License Type
The legal drink driving limits vary depending on your license type or class in NSW. Here’s a breakdown of the thresholds:
1. Unrestricted License Holders: For drivers with an unrestricted license, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of 0.05g or higher.
2. Provisional, Learner, or Interlock License Holders: If you hold a provisional, learner, or interlock driver’s license, you must not have any amount of alcohol concentration while driving. Any detectable alcohol in your system is prohibited.
It’s crucial to understand and adhere to the legal drink driving limits based on your specific license type. Operating a vehicle with alcohol concentration exceeding these limits can lead to serious consequences, including penalties, fines, and potential criminal convictions. Always prioritise safe and responsible driving practices to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Drink driving offences in New South Wales are categorised based on the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels at the time of driving. Here is an overview of the severity of drink driving offences along with their corresponding BAC thresholds, according to Transport for NSW:
1. High-range drink driving: BAC reading of 0.15g or higher.
2. Mid-range drink driving: BAC reading between 0.08g and 0.149g.
3. Driving Under the Influence (DUI): For this offence, a specific BAC reading is not required. It applies if there is evidence that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or were in the driver’s seat with the intention of initiating vehicle movement (beyond preparatory actions).
4. Low-range drink driving: BAC reading between 0.05g and 0.079g.
5. Special-range drink driving: BAC reading between 0.02g and 0.049g (applies only to ‘L’ or ‘P’ platers or interlock device license holders).
6. Novice-range drink driving: BAC reading between 0 and 0.019g (applies only to ‘L’ or ‘P’ platers or interlock device license holders).
It is important to note that the severity of the offence increases with the BAC level. The penalties for each category of drink driving vary, ranging from fines and license suspension to imprisonment, depending on the circumstances and the specific offence committed. Adhering to safe and responsible driving practices and avoiding alcohol before driving is essential to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.
In New South Wales, all instances of drink driving are classified as criminal offences and may result in a criminal conviction being recorded on your legal record. The possibility of avoiding a criminal conviction exists only if you are found not guilty of the charge or if, after pleading guilty, the court decides to grant a section 10 dismissal or a Conditional Release Order (CRO) without a criminal conviction as part of your sentencing.
Penalties can include fines, license suspension, mandatory interlock system, licence disqualification, and in severe cases, imprisonment.
Seek legal advice immediately. Charges related to driving with drugs in your system can have serious consequences, and you’ll need a lawyer to assess your options.
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