If you have been charged with drink driving, you face a number of penalties depending on the severity of the charges, your driving recording including whether you have any previous drink driving convictions and your personal circumstances.
Penalties include fines and disqualification from driving, and in serious cases, possible imprisonment.
There are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of receiving a lenient penalty if you are convicted, including enrolling in a traffic offender program, undertaking counselling to address any underlying alcohol issues, and providing personal references to the court.
The benefits of a personal reference in drink driving cases
If you are facing drink driving charges, it is well worth obtaining at least one personal reference. Drink driving is increasingly considered to be a serious criminal offence because of its potentially catastrophic consequences.
A personal or character reference allows the judge or magistrate who is presiding over your case to see your positive traits, and that the drink driving incident was out of character for you.
Someone who is of good character with a clean driving record is more likely to receive a lenient penalty than someone who is unable to show evidence of their good character, particularly if they have a history of previous offences.
You can submit up to three character references to the court, and it’s a good idea to take advantage of this and obtain all three if possible.
Who should give me a personal reference?
Ideally, you want your personal references to be from people who hold a strong position in the community, and who know you well.
Your employer is often a good person to give you a reference, as they will be able to comment on your honesty, reliability and integrity.
Other people who are likely to be respected by the magistrate or judge include those in respected professions, such as doctors, teachers and nurses.
Whoever you ask to give you a reference for court, it is important that they can speak honestly and positively about you.
Can I tell my reference what to write?
You may wish to advise your reference what they should include, but it is important that the document is written in their words, not yours, and that everything they say is genuine and honest.
Some of the things that should be included in a personal reference for drink driving include:
- Your positive personal attributes, such as honesty, a strong work ethic, participation in the community, and moderate drinking habits.
- Their understanding of the offence you have been charged with. This shows that they are aware of the circumstances surrounding the charges.
- The impact that disqualification from driving might have on your ability to carry out your employment, or look after your children.
- Their belief that you are remorseful and unlikely to re-offend. They can also verify any steps you have taken to address underlying issues that might have contributed to the drink driving offence.
- Provide examples to support any claims they make about your character. If they can discuss specific situations where you have demonstrated honesty or a willingness to help someone else out, it will be more convincing than just stating that you are honest or helpful.
Obtaining character references can have a very positive impact on the outcome of your drink driving matter.
If you are unsure how to go about obtaining a personal reference for drink driving charges, your criminal lawyer should be able to help you.