Low Range Drink Driving (NSW)17 January 2024 in Traffic Law
In New South Wales, Section 110(3) of the Road Transport Act 2013 states that it is an offence to drive with a Low Range PCA. This offence is committed when a person drives a motor vehicle on a road with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.079.
What Are The Penalties?
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 offense rests at the discretion of the police. However, an infringement/penalty notice is not an option for an individual’s second or subsequent low range drink driving offense.
What Happens If I am Given An Infringement Notice?
A penalty notice for a Low Range PCA offense does not result in a criminal conviction. The offense is solely documented on your traffic record and does not appear on your criminal record. Furthermore, if you receive an infringement/penalty notice, attending court is not mandatory for the offense. The fine amount for a Low Range PCA offense via infringement notice is $603.00, and no demerit points are incurred.
In cases where a Low Range PCA is resolved through an Infringement/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 license suspension under Section 59 of the Road Transport Act
Upon receiving a penalty notice, you have the option to make a court election for the offense and take the matter to court. A ‘Court Election’ involves having the traffic offense adjudicated in a court (in the criminal jurisdiction) and requires the person electing 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. This process allows the matter to be taken to court, seeking a non-conviction penalty. If a non-conviction penalty is granted, the Police Immediate Suspension may be resolved, or the individual could evade the automatic and mandatory license disqualification for the offense.
What Happens If I am Given A Court Attendance Notice?
If you receive a Court Attendance Notice, your presence is required in court to address the offense. The maximum penalties are contingent upon whether it is a ‘first’ or ‘second/subsequent offense.’ For the new Low-Range PCA offense to be considered a second or subsequent offense, the individual must have been convicted of a previous offense against the same provision, a former corresponding provision, or an equivalent offense within a period of five years.
For first offenses, the maximum penalty is a $2,200.00 fine, and an automatic and mandatory license disqualification upon conviction for a period ranging from three to six months.
In the case of second/subsequent offenses, 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 license for a period between one and three months, and subsequently requiring the driver to obtain an interlock license and install an interlock device in their vehicle for 12 months. Receiving a Court Attendance Notice for this offense and being convicted by the court will result in a conviction on your criminal record.
Will I Be Convicted?
When determining the appropriateness of a non-conviction penalty, the court is obligated to consider the factors outlined in Section 10(3) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. These factors include the offender’s circumstances, the trivial nature of the offense, any extenuating circumstances related to the offense, 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 offense hinges on the application of the aforementioned provision, the specific circumstances of the offense, 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 BSM 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 traffic offences 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
Brander Smith McKnight criminal lawyers 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.