Drunk Driving Laws In Australiaby Eric Jones Writer
It doesn't matter where in Australia you might be, drunk driving is a serious offence and is treated as such. The BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) is 0.05 and anybody found operating vehicles in excess of this may face such penalties as, disqualification, suspension or complete cancellation of their license, fines, loss of demerit points or even imprisonment if the offence is serious enough.
The reality of the matter is that most road accidents, in Australia and the world at large, are often caused by drunk driving. The penalties should therefore reflect the gravity of the situation and deter would be offenders from exceeding the BAC limit and operating a vehicle. In order to give you a general idea on what kind of penalties a person found drunk driving may face in Australia, we are going to cover the penalties that apply to Victoria and New South Wales.
It is prudent to cover the law in general as is associated with drunk driving before we go any deeper.
- First off, for learners: Anyone holding a probationary or learner's license in Australia should and must have a BAC of 0 (Zero) whenever operating a vehicle. The BAC of 0.05 only applies to fully licensed individuals.
- Anybody accompanying a learner should also be under 0.05.
- It is an offence for anybody to refuse a drug or alcohol test via breathalyser should it be requested by a police officer.- The thing to note about the laws that surround drunk driving is that they can and do extend to private property. So, under certain circumstances, an individual may still get penalised for driving or operating a vehicle while over the BAC of 0.05.
When it comes to drunk driving penalties, an individual's initial offence may only attract an infringement notice, whereas subsequent offences will get treated with greater strictness depending on the law of the land. It is however important to note that some first time offences may still warrant an individual to appear before the courts.
The infringement notice penalties in Victoria are as follows:
- BAC zero for learners, P plate drivers as well as professional drivers. 0.05 for licensed drivers: 10 demerit points as well as a $305.35 fine.
- BAC over 0.05 but not exceeding 0.07: For fully licensed drivers exceeding the age of 26, 10 demerit points and a $366.42 fine. While for L and P plate drivers, fully licensed drivers below 26 years of age and professional drivers, license is cancelled, they are disqualified from driving for six months and they are fined $366.42.
- BAC above 0.07 but below 0.15: Regardless of the type of license held, the driver will be fined $366.42 - $519.95 and have their license cancelled for a for a period of either 6 or 14 months. This is depending on the blood alcohol concentration level.
- BAC of 0.15 and above or subsequent offence: This individual will automatically have to attend a court hearing where fines will be levied, a cancellation of their license for 15 - 48 months and a conviction that may result in imprisonment will be recorded.
These are the infringement notice penalties for Victoria. It is also important to mention that more serious offences may result in an alcohol interlock being fitted to the offender's vehicle so that it would never start should alcohol be found in their system.
New South Wales
Drunk driving laws in New South Wales take into account the different categories of PCA (prescribed concentration of alcohol). The offences are broken down into: low, mid and high range PCA.
Low range PCA. This includes novice and special range: BAC is 0.05 - 0.08. A fine of $1,100 for first time offenders and $2,200 for subsequent offenders. There is absolutely no goal time initially. Novice drivers must have no alcohol in their systems while special range must be under 0.02. A 3 month minimum - 6 months maximum suspension of a novice license and a first time offender may be imposed. For repeat offenders the limit rises to 6 months minimum and the maximum is an unlimited time period of having their licenses disqualified. But should there be no specific court order, then the penalty imposed will be 6 months minimum and 12 months maximum license disqualification. Special range drivers face an immediate license suspension.
Mid range PCA: BAC of 0.08 but no more than 0.15, a maximum fine of $2,200 for first time offenders can be imposed by the courts and $3,300 for subsequent offenders and their licenses will be immediately suspended. It is however important to mention that mid range drivers may be liable for imprisonment should the courts deem it befitting. A maximum of 9 months for first timers and 12 months for repeat offenders.
High range PCA or refusing to take a breath test: BAC of 0.15 and above, a maximum fine of $3,300 may be levied for a first time offender and $5,500 for repeat offenders. Their license will be immediately suspended and a jail time of 18 months for first timers and 2 years for subsequent offenders may be imposed.
Should a person refuse to undergo a breathalyser test, they may face a minimum 12 month disqualification of their license, if they are first time offenders and 2 years for subsequent offences.
Wiseman Lawyers, Brisbane DUI lawyers
Vicroads, Roads Corporation of Victoria
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