What is Drink Driving

Drink driving is an offence committed by a person who operates a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. It is regarded as a serious offence all over Australia and one of the most common offences that many local courts in New South Wales need to deal with every day. 

When found guilty of the offence, an offender is faced with penalties which include the payment of fines, license suspension, serving a prison term and be required to install an alcohol interlock device. [1]

Given the severity of such penalties, offenders should seek help from law professionals like Mardini Defense Lawyers, the experts in the region’s drink driving laws.

Drink Driving Law in Australia

Drink driving is among the leading causes of road deaths all over Australia. Due to this, the penalties imposed reflect the gravity of the offences committed. But since a specific body of law in each state governs the offence, it is safe to conclude that the penalties imposed on drink driving vary from one state to another. 

Drink Driving Law in New South Wales

Drink Driving is one of the most common offences in New South Wales. The penalties imposed on persons who are found guilty of the offence are governed by the Road Transport Act of 2013. Based on the provisions set out by this act, the New South Wales region now has five drink driving levels, and these include the following.

  1. Novice Range – Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.00 to 0.019
  2. Special Range – Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.02 to 0.049
  3. Low Range – Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.05 to 0.079
  4. Mid-Range – Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 to 0.149
  5. High Range – Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.15 and higher

The offenders belonging to the novice, low or special range, when found guilty of drink driving in New South Wales for the first time, maybe penalised with license suspension for at least three months and an automatic fine of $561. For second and subsequent offences, the offenders must appear in court and obliged to pay a fine of up to $3,300. Their licenses are also suspended for a period of 6 months.

The first-time mid-range drink driving offenders in New South Wales are sanctioned with the payment of a fine amounting to $2,200 and may be sentenced to serve a prison term of nine months. The licenses of these offenders are also immediately suspended for nine months. 

The mid-range offenders who committed the same offence for the second and subsequent times are penalised with a fine of $3,300. Penalties may also include a 12-month prison term and a suspension of license for twelve months.

The first-time high range drink driving offenders are sanctioned by imposing a fine of $3,300 fine and possibility of eighteen months of imprisonment. The licenses of these violators are also suspended for twelve months. The second and subsequent offenders of this range are penalised by a fine of $5,500 and the possibility of a 2-year prison term, with a  license suspension for up to two years

In May 2019, the penalties imposed on drink driving offenders in New South Wales had changed. The standard operating procedures for handling offenders have also changed. The individuals who are caught committing the offence can now be hit with an automatic license suspension. 

Furthermore, even the low range level offenders who committed the offence for the first time are penalised on the spot fine. Thus, drink drivers in New South Wales are no longer required to appear in court as one of the consequences of their driving violations.

The drink driving laws in Australia, including the New South Wales region, continues to evolve. The truth is, this evolution can make drink driving a more serious offence and a much heavier load for offenders. Thus, individuals with drink driving history should have someone to call for help. 

Call Mardini Defense Lawyers now!

Alcohol Interlock Scheme

The alcohol interlock scheme is a system designed to help reduce the number of drink drivers on the road. The method uses an alcohol interlock device installed on vehicles to limit or prevent drivers with massive alcohol intakes from driving. Thus, the roads become safer for all road users. [2]

What is an interlock device?

An interlock is an electronic breath testing device used to limit or prevent drivers with higher blood alcohol concentration from driving. The device is usually linked to the vehicle’s ignition. It requires the driver to provide a breath sample that will be analysed for the presence of alcohol. When a positive sample is detected, the device will automatically prevent the vehicle from starting or moving. 

Aside from that, the interlock also requires the passing of samples randomly timed during the trip. Finally, the interlock comes with a camera that captures a photograph of the source of breath samples. This feature prevents the driver from circumventing the program.

Who is required to participate?

The grounds that could require drivers to participate in an alcohol interlock program vary from one state to another. Although this scheme is among the drink driving penalties in almost all states in Australia, identifying participants and the program’s duration solely depends on each state’s law that governs drink driving. 

Device installation and servicing

An accredited service provider should handle the installation of an alcohol interlock device. This is because these providers have the needed skills to install the device and make it work the way it should be. Aside from the installation, the service providers are also the one that will explain in detail how the system works and the best practices employed when using it. Finally, they will also handle the servicing of the device throughout the program.

Cost of device use

The cost of having an alcohol interlock installed in a vehicle due to drink driving is shouldered by the offender. Most of the time, payments are made in exchange for the following services.

  • Installation of the interlock device
  • Monthly lease of the device
  • Servicing of the device (either monthly or bi-monthly)
  • Removal of the device after the prescribed interlock period

The estimated annual cost for these is around a thousand dollars. Furthermore, interfering with the device and using it the wrong way can increase the total expenses incurred. This is because interference could damage the device and require additional servicing.

Alcohol interlock scheme exemptions

Not all drink driving offenders who are penalised by mandatory participation in an alcohol interlock program are obliged to do so. The court can exempt offenders using the provision stated in Section 212 of the Road Transport Act of 2013. The exemption is allowed if: 

  1. An offender has no access to a vehicle where the interlock device will be installed. This exemption is applicable for offenders who share vehicles with other individuals who are not fit to use the interlock device due to certain medical conditions.
  2. An offender suffering from medical conditions that prevent him from providing the needed breath samples for the vehicle to be operated is exempted.
  3. An offender committed mid-range drink driving for the first time, and participating in the interlock program would make all his circumstances harder to bear.

However, the law explicitly suggests that the following reasons are valid ground for exemption.

  1. An offender is not capable of handling the cost of installing and maintaining an interlock device.
  2. The vehicle owner will not allow the offender to have the vehicle installed with the interlock device.
  3. The offender will not be able to use the vehicle for work when the interlock device is installed.

Considering the drink driving law in New South Wales, having a dedicated group of legal experts like Mardini Defense Lawyers is a must-have for all drivers and vehicle owners. 

Call Mardini Defence Lawyers today to discuss your drink driving matter


Chaddy Mardini

0412 719 705

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