What is High Range Drink Driving?
High range drink driving is also known as driving with a high range prescribed concentration of alcohol, or ‘high range pca’.
It is where a person drives a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.150.
If the court convicts a driver of high range pca, it must impose a period of disqualification from driving.
The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal handed-down a ‘guideline judgement’ on high range pca which essentially told the lower courts to treat the offence seriously, and impose consistent sentences.
Since the decision, the penalties imposed for high range pca have increased significantly.
It is therefore important to treat the allegation seriously, and to engage lawyers who are experienced in these types of cases,
High range drink driving penalties differ depending on whether a person has committed another major traffic offence within the previous 5 years.
However, the offence is always subject to what’s known as a ‘mandatory interlock order’.
This means, unless a driver is ‘exempted’, he or she must serve a period off the road (the ‘disqualification period’) followed by a period whereby he or she may drive provided they have a device fitted into the vehicle whereby the ignition will only activate once a sample of breath registers a negative reading for alcohol.
This is called an interlock device and must be fitted and maintained at the driver’s own expense.
If it is a driver’s first major traffic offence in 5 years, the disqualification period is 6 to 9 months, followed by a 24 month interlock compliance period.
The maximum fine is $3,300 and/or imprisonment for 18 months.
A driver may be exempted from the interlock program if participation would cause severe hardship or it is otherwise appropriate to grant an exemption.
In that case, the ‘automatic’ period of disqualification is 3 years, which can be reduced by a court to 12 months.
However, if the driver is able to achieve a non-conviction order such as a conditional release order (without conviction), there will be no interlock requirement, no licence disqualification, no fine and no criminal record.
2nd or Subsequent Offence
If it is a driver’s second or more major traffic offence within 5 years, the disqualification period is between 9 and 12 months followed by an interlock participation period of 48 months.
The maximum fine is $5,500 and/or up to 2 years in prison.
Again, the court can exempt a driver from the interlock requirement.
In that event, the automatic period of disqualification is 5 years, which can be reduced to a minimum of 2 years.
The following are official sentencing statistics for High Range Drink Driving NSW.
They are published by the Judicial Commission of NSW.
|Number of Cases||15,447|
|Section 10 Dismissal||0%|
|Section 10 bond (Now Conditional Release Order without Conviction)||2%|
|Section 10A (+ disqualification)||0%|
|Fine (+ disqualification)||41%|
|Section 9 bond ( +disqualification)||29%|
|Community Service Order (+ disqualification)||11%|
|Suspended Sentence (+ disqualification)||2%|
|Periodic Detention (no longer applicable)||2%|
|Home Detention (+ disqualification)||1%|
|Prison (+ disqualification)||5%|
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