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The offence of DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol), otherwise known as drink driving, is the offence of driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, whether prescribed or prohibited, that makes the driver of a vehicle incapable of operating the vehicle in a safe manner.  

 

Below is a brief table outlining the various offences that fall under a charge for driving under the influence with a certain prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA), and the maximum penalties associated with each offence for first time offenders and repeat offenders.

 

PCA Offence Penalty for First Time Offenders
Max. Fine

Max. Gaol
(months)
Min. Disq.
(months)
Max. Disq.
(months)
Interlock Period
(months)
Novice Range
(0.00 – 0.019 BAC)
$1,100.00 N/A 3 6 N/A
Special Range
(0.02 – 0.049 BAC)
$1,100.00 N/A 3 6 N/A
Low Range
(0.05 – 0.79 BAC)
$1,100.00 N/A 3 6 N/A
Middle Range
(0.08 – 0.149 BAC)
$2,200.00 9 6 12 N/A
High Range
(0.150+ BAC)
$3,300.00 18 6 9 24

 

PCA Offence Penalty for Repeat Offenders
Max. Fine

Max. Gaol

(months)

Min. Disq.

(months)

Max. Disq.

(months)

Interlock Period

(months)

Novice Range
(0.00 – 0.019 BAC)
$2,200.00 N/A 1 3 12
Special Range
(0.02 – 0.049 BAC)
$2,200.00 N/A 1 3 12
Low Range
(0.05 – 0.79 BAC)
$2,200.00 N/A 1 3 12
Middle Range
(0.08 – 0.149 BAC)
$3,300.00 12 6 9 24
High Range
(0.150+ BAC)
$5,500.00 24 9 12 48

 

TAKING PART IN A BREATH TEST

 

The police have the right to ask a person to take part in a breath test if an accident has occurred, or by way of a random breath test. In such cases, it is generally against the law to refuse to take part in a breath test, unless you are able to show genuine reasons why you are unable to do so.

 

In most instances, the breathalyzer equipment and machines that are used by police officers during random breath tests display an accurate reading, although the initial reading alone is not enough to lay a charge. However, if a person is found to be over the prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) for their licence class, the police will place them under arrest, where the person is then transported to a police station or a ‘mobile booze bus’ to take part in a more comprehensive breath analysis test. If at the time of their arrest a person is found to be in no condition to safely operate a vehicle, depending on where their vehicle is parked, the police may order that the vehicle be towed away at the person’s expense.

Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you are charged with a drink driving offence, it is best to hire a highly qualified drink driving lawyer or a traffic lawyer who will be able to advise you as to any defences that may be available in your matter, and also speak to the court on your behalf during the proceedings.

 

HOW CAN YOU DEFEND YOURSELF?

 

There are a number of defences available to PCA and DUI charges, however, the three most common defences that are used are:

 

  1. The Breath Test Against You Was Done Unlawfully
    The Road Transport Act 2013 sets out circumstances in which the police are reasonably allowed to administer a breath test, amongst other forms of testing. A breath test has to be conducted within a 2-hour time period in order for the test to be lawfully conducted. If it can be proven that the test occurred 2 hours after you had driven a vehicle (bearing in mind that sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with the engine off will still class you as the driver), the test will be inadmissible as evidence.

 

Another scenario that warrants an unlawful breath test is if the test was conducted at your place of residence. The driveway connected to your house is considered under the law to be a part of your residential property, meaning that the police cannot conduct a test if you are able to “get home safe”.

 

 

  • Honest and Reasonable Mistake

 

This defence arises as a matter of fact. For example, if you are out with friends at a bar and only consumed glasses of lemonade through the course of the night, but your drinks were spiked with alcohol by someone else without your knowledge, you would be able to rely on the defence of honest and reasonable mistake, as there would have been no reason for you to suspect that your drink had been spiked, thus leading to the perception that you are completely sober. Of course, in this situation there must be some form of evidence that would strongly suggest that your drinks were in fact spiked.

 

 

  • Challenge to the Obtained Reading

 

As noted above, a breath test can only be conducted within a 2-hour period from the time you were driving a vehicle to the time you are tested. That said, different people process alcohol at different rates, and consequently, their individual blood alcohol levels can be prone to increases and decreases over time. It may be possible to obtain an expert report which highlights that your blood alcohol level at the time of taking the test would have been lower, which would then prove the argument that you would not have been over the legal limit at the time of the test.

 

Always think about the consequences of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol, no matter how much you have consumed. One mistake on the road can not only lead to a criminal conviction against your name, but can also negatively affect your life, as well as the lives of other motorists.

 

ENGAGE US AS YOUR DRINK DRIVING LAWYERS IN SYDNEY

 

If you are facing drink driving or driving under the influence charges and need help, give us a call at Sydney Traffic Lawyers. We will connect you with a drink driving lawyer or DUI lawyer in Sydney who can walk you through the basics of your charges and learn more about your case. From there, we will identify the legal issues and develop the best case you have. To schedule a consultation today, give us a call on (02) 8059 7121.