What are the Drink Driving Penalties in Australia

What are the Drink Driving Penalties in Australia

Getting caught drink driving can turn out to be a serious offence – depending on a couple of factors, you could be facing disqualification from driving, potentially heavy fines, and in some cases even jail time. But what are the drink driving penalties in Australia and when do they apply?

Here is your quick guide to navigating limits around Australia.

What is a Drink Driving offence?

Drink driving is when someone is driving while:

  • With a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit;
  • Under the influence of alcohol or any drug where the driver is, therefore, unable to exercise proper control over the vehicle

Drink driving laws in Australia

Depending on where you are, you might face a slightly different penalty for the same offence. That’s because States and Territories have their own road laws when it comes to drunk driving and the penalties that occur as a result.

For example, in Victoria, it’s the Road Safety Act 1986 that applies, whereas, in Western Australia, it’s the Road Traffic Act 1974, sections 63, 64AA that counts. If you’re new to town, it’s worth knowing the exact limits, even if they’re largely similar from state to state.

What is the limit across Australia?

Even though states have different laws, Across Australia a 0.05% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or higher is an offence. Differences between states come into play when someone’s BAC is higher than 0.05.

Where are these laws applicable?

Across Australia, police are allowed to stop any car and ask for a breath test. If you are caught drink driving in any vehicle (car, truck bus, even jet skis, and boats, etc.) on a public road (or waters), you are subject to the relevant law and likewise punishment. Most states also include private property in these laws; however, this isn’t the case everywhere.

If you weren’t behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, and the vehicle was turned off, you cannot be charged, and should immediately consult a lawyer if you are.

What is the drink driving limit in Western Australia?

So what does the law say about drink driving in WA? Essentially if you’re over the limit you face consequences such as a loss of demerit points, or a notice to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court to determine the penalty. Here’s what you need to know:

  • In Western Australia, if you’re on a normal licence and you’re caught with a BAC of between 0.05 and 0.079 you will face penalties.
  • If your BAC is higher than 0.08, you will receive an automatic disqualification until the issue is resolved in court.
  • You must have a 0 BAC if you’re one of the following: novice driver, extraordinary licence holders, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and anyone driving a heavy vehicle like a truck.

What are the drink driving penalties?

There are multiple possible penalties for a drink driving offence. Depending on where you are, the circumstances, and your BAC, there is a range of different drink driving penalties that can apply. Some of these include:

  • On the spot fines
  • Temporary or permanent licence disqualification
  • Accrual of demerit points
  • Vehicle impound/immobilisation
  • Community service
  • Deferred sentencing
  • Educational programmes
  • Prison

What happens after you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence?

After you have been charged with a DUI you will face a court hearing to determine the outcome. Normally, these do not take long, and if you have the right legal assistance, you can actually get a very good deal. If you suspect that the grounds on which you were arrested are shaky, or your circumstances aren’t clear – you should contact a qualified legal practitioner immediately and explain your situation.

While there is little wiggle room in terms of defence, (because normally people are caught red-handed) there are still ways to reduce sentencing and fines with the right legal advice.

If you have had your licence suspended for 3 years or over, you can apply to have the suspension lifted if you meet certain criteria and can show you have changed your behaviour.

What Australian courts will consider when looking at drink driving cases

While different jurisdictions may have different rules when it comes to Blood alcohol concentration, courts across Australia will generally take similar things into consideration.

  • Circumstances in which you were caught
  • Prior convictions of a similar nature
  • Aggravating features such as speeding, evading the police

I’ve been caught drink driving. Do I need a lawyer?

It certainly helps to have a lawyer backing you up. Drink Driving lawyers know their stuff, and with plenty of experience in dealing with drink driving cases, they know the law like the back of their hand. It also helps to have legal representation if this is your first offence – the court system can be an overwhelming experience for someone who hasn’t experienced it before.

With maximum penalties involving potential jail time and hefty fines, it pays to have a professional lawyer backing you up.

Hire a qualified criminal defence lawyer who you can trust will get you the best deal possible.