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Low Range Drink Driving (NSW)

This article examines the offence of low range drink driving. In NSW, the Road Transport Act 2013, s110 (3) states that it is an offence to drive with a low range prescribed concentration of alcohol, otherwise known as PCA. This offence is committed when a person drives a motor vehicle on a road with a PCA of 0.05 to 0.079.

What Are The Penalties for a Low Range Drink Driving Charge?

When an individual is apprehended for driving with a low range PCA, law enforcement has the authority to issue either:

  • An infringement/penalty notice, imposing a fine of $603, or
  • A court attendance notice.

The decision between a penalty notice and a court attendance notice for a person’s first offence is at the discretion of the police. However, an infringement or penalty notice is not an option for an individual’s second or subsequent low range drink driving offence.

What Happens If I am Given An Infringement Notice for Low Range Drink Driving?

A penalty notice for a low range PCA offence does not result in a criminal conviction. The offence is documented on your traffic record and does not appear on your criminal record. Furthermore, if you receive an infringement or penalty notice, attending court is not mandatory for the offence. The fine amount for a low range PCA offence via an infringement notice is $603.00, and no demerit points are incurred.

In cases where a low range PCA is resolved through an infringement or penalty notice, it is expected that you may:

  • Experience an immediate license suspension from the police for three months, or
  • After paying the penalty notice, receive a Notice of Suspension from Transport NSW, resulting in a three-month licence suspension under Section 59 of the Road Transport Act.

Upon receiving a penalty notice, you have the option of electing to take the matter to court. If you do this the matter is adjudicated in a court, in the criminal jurisdiction, and requires you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Any conviction imposed by the court following a court election is recorded as a criminal conviction.

Individuals often choose court elections to potentially avoid a conviction penalty and or an immediate police suspension.

If a non-conviction penalty is granted, the immediate police suspension may be withdrawn, or the person can evade the automatic and mandatory licence disqualification for the offence.

What Happens If I am Given A Court Attendance Notice for Low Range PCA?

If you receive a court attendance notice, your presence is required in court to address the offence. The maximum penalties depend on whether it is a first or subsequent offence. For a low range drink driving offence to be considered a subsequent offence, the individual must have been convicted of a previous offence or an equivalent offence within the previous five years.

For first offences, the maximum penalty is a $2,200.00 fine, and an automatic and mandatory licence disqualification upon for three to six months.

In the case of subsequent offences, the maximum penalty is a $3,300.00 fine, and a mandatory interlock order is imposed upon conviction. This interlock order involves a two-fold system, initially disqualifying the driver for between one and three months, and subsequently requiring the driver to obtain an interlock licence and install an interlock device in their vehicle for 12 months. Receiving a court attendance notice for this offence and being convicted by the court will result in a conviction on your criminal record.

Am I Likely to be Convicted of Low Range Drink Driving Charge in Court?

When determining the appropriateness of a non-conviction penalty, the court is obligated to consider the factors outlined in the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 s10(3). These factors include the offender’s circumstances, the trivial nature of the offence, any extenuating circumstances related to the offence, and any other relevant matters, such as an early guilty plea or participation in a traffic offender program.

The likelihood of being convicted for a low-range drink driving offence hinges on the application of the aforementioned provision, the specific circumstances of the offence, and your existing criminal and traffic record. In our experience, courts approach drink driving cases with utmost seriousness due to the potential risk posed to the community. Consequently, the most probable sentencing outcome involves a fine penalty accompanied by a criminal conviction.

Why choose BSM Criminal Lawyers?

It is important that you receive legal advice. Many Low Range Drink Driving offences result in a criminal conviction. At Brander Smith McKnight, we have assisted many hundreds of clients with these charges. Our criminal lawyers will provide you with legal advice to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome. This may include:

  • Preparing you for court
  • Obtaining character references
  • Obtain evidence of hardship of licence disqualification, such as caring for a sick relative or the need for a licence for employment
  • Obtaining medical or psychological reports
  • Obtaining references from employers
  • Completing traffic offender programs

The criminal lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight will carefully prepare submissions for sentencing, presenting the best possible legal case to achieve the best outcome. Our lawyers will appear in court for you, advocate strongly for you and handle the entire court process.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

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