Drink Driving in Australia

May 13, 2022

Drunk Driving in Australia: Fact Sheet

Had a tipple and needed to drive? Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving whilst intoxicated both face serious consequences for yourself and to the law.

Before sitting behind the wheel, gain some facts on drink driving laws and regulations in Australia.

What Percentage of Road Accidents Is Caused by Alcohol?

Do you know that drunk driving is one of the causes of road accidents in Australia? It is one of the top causes of death and injury on Australian roads. According to data from June 2019, 635 drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians have died on Australian roads. It is a significant increase of 13.8% in road tolls compared to 2018.

Many of those killed while driving have a mental health issue or alcohol addiction. These drivers have been caught by the random breath test of the police or have been involved in an accident before. Some of them are first offenders who made one fatal mistake.

What Is the Law for Drink Driving in Australia?

Regardless of where you are in the continent, drink driving is a serious offence. Any person operating a vehicle with alcohol in their system above the legal limit could face penalties that range from suspension, disqualification or cancellation of their licence, to imprisonment. 

Australian states and territories enforce laws for people driving under the influence. The blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold in Australia is 0.05 for drivers with a full licence. Probationary licence holders are not allowed to have any trace of alcohol in their system at all when driving. Be warned that penalties for breaching these laws are severe. 

Every state and territory in Australia has varying laws on drink driving. If you intend to drive to any of these places, it is important to have a heads up of the drinking laws to avoid licence suspension, fines and or jail time.

What’s the Purpose of These Laws?

The number one reason why drink driving laws are implemented is for safety. Yes, avoid death as much as possible. Because on the road, most of the accidents are due to drunk driving.

Even if there are existing laws, there are still fatal accidents occurring each year. People die on the road each day. Due to alcohol, the mind is impaired, and the physical body is too weak to manoeuvre a vehicle, more so on a highway.

What does drinking driving will cost a driver anyway if you survive a crash but have been caught by the authorities?

  • Risk of losing your licence
  • Compelled to attend a behavioural change program
  • Need to drive following BAC requirement depending on the state laws
  • Go to jail

Can a Passenger Drink Alcohol in a Car Australia?

Compared to driving, laws governing drinking alcohol in a car, whether by a passenger or driver, are territory-specific.


Drivers must not consume alcohol while driving under any circumstances. But passengers, as long as they are under the legal limit of 0.05%, can drink alcohol while instructing a student driver. In the state of Victoria, the Road Safety Act goes further and does not permit drivers to drink at all, even in a parked or stationary car.


According to Queensland’s (QLD’s) Road Rules section 300A, there is a flat-out ban on having alcohol in a moving vehicle no matter if the driver or passengers are below the 0.05% limit.

In addition, all QLD drivers cannot have an open alcohol container in their cars. Any alcohol in a vehicle must be unopened and stored in an area away from where occupants can access it.

South Australia

No law explicitly states the driver cannot drink in the car. Some laws state the driver needs to have total control of the vehicle at all times. In the event of an accident, the police will take into account if alcohol was a factor.


ACT laws are similar to those in QLD. Drivers cannot have an open alcohol container in their car.

In Tasmania, it is an offence to have any alcohol consumed in the vehicle, whether by the driver or the passenger. Lastly, in Western Australia, no specific laws are stated about people drinking in the car, but the driver must be below the legal limit.


Mardini Defence Lawyers: Defending You

Are you charged with a drink driving offence in Australia? Know your rights and get better sentences. 

We, at Mardini Defence Lawyers, have expertise in drink driving laws, and will strive hard  to mitigate the penalties offenders commit. If you are one of those, you can reach out for help.

We can help you protect your rights and freedom. If you have come into a conundrum about drink driving and could not defend your case, we are here to guide you. We help our clients build the best defence. Don’t hesitate to call us.

Get in touch with us

If you are facing a criminal charge, we urge you to contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation. No case is too big or too small.

Contact us