Driving a motor vehicle requires correct decision making and complete concentration. It is a proven fact that people who drive under the influence of alcohol, stand at a very high risk of meeting with accidents. Drink driving is one of the most significant causes of road trauma and death.

Drink Driving Offence

Driving a motor vehicle with blood alcohol content greater than the specified legal limit brings you under the purview of the offence of ‘drink driving.’ Blood alcohol content is the concentration of alcohol in blood usually measured as mass per volume. For example Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.02% means 0.02 grams of alcohol in every 100 milliliters of individual’s blood. If you hold a learner or a probationary licence, then you must have a zero BAC while driving. Whereas if you are holding a full licence, the prescribed BAC limit should be 0.05.

If you are found to be operating a motor vehicle in excess of the prescribed BAC, you will be liable for penalties which may range from suspension to cancellation of licence, fine and even imprisonment depending upon the severity of the drink driving offence committed by you. Drivers of heavy trucks, buses, trains, trams and motorcyclists who are in the first year of their riding must maintain a zero BAC level while they are on road. Your BAC level can be measured by a simple breath test procedure and your refusal to undergo a Random Breath Test (RBT) for drink driving as requested by any member of the police force will be considered to be an offence too.

Elements of Drink Driving Offence

In order to convict a person of a drink driving offence, the following elements must be proved:

Driving: You must be driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle or be in charge of it in order to be guilty of drink driving offence. Being “in charge” of a motor vehicle also include situations wherein you may not be actually driving but are in a position to exercise control over the motor vehicle physically.

Consumption of alcohol: You must have consumed alcohol and this can be established either observing that your mental or physical abilities have been affected by consuming alcohol or by obtaining breath or blood analysis certificate showing your BAC level beyond the prescribed limit.

Police Power regarding Drink Driving

In offences relating to drink driving, a police officer has the power to:

Direct you to provide specimen of breath or blood and/or urine;

Stop your private motor vehicle in order to check whether you are drink driving;

Require your motor vehicle to be moved to a reasonable place;

Enter and inspect the motor vehicle so as to search the motor vehicle and/or seize, inspect or take photographs of anything in the motor vehicle; and

Prohibit you from driving, if the officer has reasonable ground(s) to believe that you would commit a traffic offence in case you continue to drive.

Drink Driving Offence in New South Wales (NSW)

The main legislation regulating drink driving in NSW is the Road Transport Legislation Amendment Act 1999 (NSW) which was effectively reproduced in the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 and the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (the Act).

Under Section 9 of the Act, it is an offence for individuals with a prescribed BAC level to drive, attempt to drive or occupy the seat next to the holder of a learner’s licence who is driving a motor vehicle. The Act identifies four categories of Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) offences:

Special range PCA: This applies to drivers with a BAC level between 0.02 and 0.049 g/100 mL.

Low range PCA: This applies to drivers with a BAC level between 0.05 and 0.079 g/100 mL.

Mid-range PCA: This applies to drivers with a BAC level between 0.08 and 0.149 g/100 mL.

High range PCA: This applies to drivers with a BAC level over 0.15 g/100 mL.

The penalties for a first time offender may include suspension of licence, a maximum fine of $3,300 imposed by the Court, imprisonment for a term of 18 months and a minimum disqualification period of 12 months. Whereas, a second time offender or a subsequent offender may face suspension of their licence or a maximum fine of $5,500 and an imprisonment and minimum disqualification for a term of 2 years each.

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Drink Driving

Drink Driving Penalties
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