What are the Penalties for Drink Driving in NSW?

Police in NSW have the power to stop drivers and test for alcohol, and make arrests based on blood alcohol levels. NSW police conducted more than 4.5 million breath tests across the state in 2011. These are some of the penalties, from fines to jail terms, for drink driving in NSW.

Fines

Fines can range from $1,100 to $5,500, depending on a driver’s drink-driving history and the seriousness of the drink-driving offence.

High-Range PCA

According to the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) website, a high Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) can result in a court-imposed fine of up to $3,300 if it’s a first offence, or $5,500 if it’s a second or subsequent offence.

A high-range PCA is defined by the RMS as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above. The maximum fine can also apply in a case where a driver refuses to take a breath test, hinders or obstructs the taking of a blood sample, or wilfully alters the alcohol concentration in their blood.

Mid-Range PCA

The lower the PCA, the less severe the penalty. For example, a mid-range PCA attracts a fine of up to $2,200 for the first offence, and $3,300 for second or subsequent offences. A mid-range PCA is associated with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 to less than 0.15.

Low Range PCA

A low-range PCA, where there is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to less than 0.08, attracts a court-imposed fine of up to $1,100 for the first offence, and $2,200 for second or subsequent offences. These limits also apply to those who are convicted of novice range PCA, where there is a blood alcohol concentration above zero and below 0.02.

Licence Disqualification and Suspension

Those convicted of drink driving can face licence suspension and disqualification, along with a fine.

  • High-Range PCA. A high-range PCA can result in immediate licence suspension for 12 months or more for a first offence, and two years or more for a second or subsequent offence. In the absence of a specific court order, an automatic disqualification period of three years for a first offence, and five years for a second or subsequent offence, applies.
  • Mid-Range PCA. A mid-range PCA can result in immediate licence suspension for six months or more for a first offence, and 12 months or more for a second or subsequent offence. In the absence of a specific court order, an automatic disqualification period of 12 months for a first offence, and three years for a second or subsequent offence, applies.
  • Low-Range PCA. Drivers do not face immediate licence suspension, although a disqualification of three months to six months for a first offence, and six months or more for a second or subsequent offence, can be imposed. In the absence of a specific court order, an automatic disqualification period of six months for a first offence, and 12 months for a second or subsequent offence, applies.

Jail Time

The maximum jail term for high-range PCA offences is 18 months for first offences, or two years for a second or subsequent offence. For a mid range PCA, the maximum jail term is nine months (first offences) or 12 months (second or subsequent offence). The courts do not have the power to impose jail sentences for low range or novice range offences.

What to do When Facing Charges

If a driver has been charged with drink driving, the best course of action is usually to see a lawyer. A lawyer can help explore different options, and they can assist with preparing a case that might result in less onerous penalties. Whether a driver is facing a fine, jail time, or the prospect of going without their licence, they will want to make sure they have a lawyer who can help present the best possible case.

Visit Sydney Criminal Lawyers for highly respected and experienced drink driving lawyers in Sydney.

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