Are you facing drink driving charges? You may have been caught drink driving during a random breath test carried out by police at the roadside, or as a result of being breathalysed following a car accident.
If so, you are probably concerned about the penalties you face, and whether or not you will lose your licence. Whatever the penalty, what is certain is that the process can be highly stressful.
No matter whether it’s your first offence for drink driving, or you have been charged before, it is worth hiring the expertise of a specialised drink driving lawyer in Sydney. Having a good lawyer on your side can take some of the stress out of the process, and can help make sure you get the best outcome possible in your case.
What is drink driving?
Drink driving is the term used to describe the offence of driving while intoxicated. Drink driving is a serious traffic offence. If it is your first offence, you can face a significant fine, a good behaviour bond or a community service order, along with a conviction on your criminal record. You also have to deal with the prospect of losing your driver’s licence. This can affect you personally, but also professionally if you rely on your car to get to work or to carry out your work.
If it is your second or subsequent offence for drink driving, then you will most likely face a heftier fine and a further disqualification of your licence. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the incident, a prison sentence is also a possibility.
The drink driving categories
When you are charged with drink driving, your offence is placed into one of three categories. In NSW, there is low range PCA, mid-range PCA and high range PCA offences. PCA refers to the “prescribed concentration of alcohol” in your system. This is based on the reading the police take using a breathalyser.
- A low range PCA is a blood alcohol content of above 0.05 and less than 0.08.
- A mid-range PCA is a blood alcohol content of above 0.08 and less than 0.15.
- A high range PCA is a blood alcohol content of above 0.15.
Typically, when you are charged for drink driving it is likely you will have been breathalysed twice – once at the roadside or the incident, and another at the police station. It is the second reading that is used as the basis of the charge.
The higher the PCA, the more serious the penalty you face, and the greater the fine and the period of disqualification from driving. For mid-range PCA for instance, if it is your first offence, you may face a prescribed period of disqualification from driving of at least six months, in addition to any fine and a conviction.
How can a drink driving lawyer in Sydney help me?
Drink driving is a specialised area of law. For low range drink driving offences, the penalties vary significantly. For serious or subsequent drink driving offences, you face harsh penalties, including a prison sentence.
Hiring an expert drink driving lawyer to represent you in court can mean the difference between a conviction being entered on your record or obtaining a conditional or unconditional dismissal of the charge. It can also mean the difference between being given a term of imprisonment or a fine in more serious cases.
A drink driving lawyer has the legal know-how in drink driving case law, and the experience, to try to reduce your penalty. Their expertise can make a significant difference to the penalty you may receive.
In certain cases, you may not lose your licence if the impact would be disproportionate to the offence. This is called extra-curial punishment. This is a complex argument, but a drink driving lawyer has the expertise and experience to argue it before the court.
For example, if you have been charged with a low range PCA reading that was discovered as a result of a random breath test, and it is your first offence, a specialised drink driving lawyer may be able to show the court the impact of a disqualification from driving on your business in the hope of having your licence reinstated. Or perhaps there was something going on in your life at the time to explain your behaviour and to show the court that it was out of character.
Whether you are pleading guilty or defending the charge, specialist drink driving lawyers can provide the assistance and advice required to ensure you know what penalties and suspension periods may be imposed, what will happen at court, and what happens after your suspension period is over. They can also advise of any drink driving programs in your area, and whether participating in one will assist in reducing your penalty.