What Happens If I am Involved In a Drink Driving Crash? (NSW)17 January 2024 in Traffic Law
Drink driving is one of the primary causes of crashes on NSW roads, accounting for almost 18% of all fatal crashes. This article briefly outlines what occurs after a crash and the criminal consequences.
What Usually Happens After The Crash?
Following a crash, the police will initiate an investigation and request you to undergo a breath test. If the test indicates a reading exceeding the prescribed limit, the police will arrest you and transport you to a police station for a breath analysis. Refusing a breath test or breath analysis is considered an offence. If you fail the breath analysis, the police may charge you with drink driving and/or other more serious offenses, such as dangerous or reckless driving. Subsequently, you will be notified of the court date for your case, and attendance on that day is mandatory.
Typically, you will be released on bail from the police station, and you may have signed a “bail undertaking” with specific conditions. If you sustain serious injuries in the accident, ambulance officers may transport you to the hospital. However, at the hospital, the police can compel medical professionals to draw your blood for testing. The circumstances under which police can demand a blood sample are specific, and if one is taken from you, it is crucial to seek advice on its legality.
What Offences Can I Be Charged With?
There are several alcohol related offences:
- Novice Range PCA: Blood alcohol concentration above 0.00 and below 0.02
- Special Range PCA: Special category driver (such as bus or taxi driver) with a blood alcohol concentration from 0.02 and below 0.05
- Low Range PCA: Blood alcohol concentration from 0.08 and below 0.15.
- High Range PCA: Blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher
There are several dangerous driving related offences:
- Driving in a manner dangerous to the public: If you were involved in a drink driving crash, you may be charged with driving recklessly or in a manner that was dangerous to the public.
- Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm: This offence carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment (or 7 years when aggravated)
- Dangerous driving occasioning death: This offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment (or 14 years when aggravated).
Will My Insurance Cover The Damage?
Even with full comprehensive insurance, coverage may be denied if it is established that you were driving with alcohol in your system. Consequently, the repercussions of an alcohol-related driving charge may extend beyond criminal prosecution and associated penalties. It is important to note that being charged with a drink-driving offense by the police doesn’t automatically imply guilt. Seeking legal counsel from an experienced lawyer in these matters is crucial.
Can I Be Ordered To Pay Compensation?
Law enforcement has the authority to pursue compensation for damages resulting from the accident. For instance, if you caused damage to other vehicles, the police can, on behalf of the owners, seek monetary compensation to cover repair costs. In some cases, the police may assert a compensation amount that may be negotiable. It is not uncommon for them to claim more than what can be justified. If the court, during the sentencing phase, issues a compensation order, the specified amount becomes legally enforceable.
Why BSM Lawyers?
It is important that you receive legal advice. Many drink driving (PCA) offences are criminal offences which may result in a criminal record and a gaol sentence. 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.