Criminal Offences

Drink Driving Lawyers Sydney

Benjamin & Leonardo is highly experienced and one of the best Drink Driving Lawyers in Sydney. Drink driving is a serious, criminal offence and should never be thought upon lightly. However, despite the negative social stigma and serious penalties involved, people still continue to drink and drive. In fact, statistics show that drink driving is a factor in more than 20% of all fatal crashes in NSW and accounts for approximately 100 fatalities annually. As a result, the Court takes such offences seriously by imposing several penalties which can have a subsequent impact on an individual’s liberty and lifestyle. 

The offence of drink driving is found under section 112 of the Road Transport Act. In order to best understand the offence, it is important to have a sound understanding of Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA). Commonly referred to as a blood alcohol reading, PCA measures the amount of alcohol in grams per 100mL of blood. This reading is crucial in drink driving cases, as a higher PCA generally results in more significant penalties. In NSW law, drink driving penalties are enforced as per the below categorisation.

  • Novice Range: PCA – 0.001 to 00.19
  • Special Range: PCA – 0.02 to 0.49
  • Low Range: PCA – 0.05 to 0.079
  • Mid Range: PCA – 0.08 to 0.149
  • High Range: PCA – 0.150 and above

It is also important to be aware that in NSW, there is a legal limit of 0.05 PCA for fully licenced drivers, therefore, low range and special range drink driving is not an offence for these individuals. Alternatively, provisional licence holders must adhere to an alcohol reading of 0, whereby any of the above offences will apply.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are possessing 29 years of experience in criminal and traffic related offences. Our experienced drink driving lawyers based in Sydney have represented many similar cases and are proud to hold a 90% success rate for all criminal charges we have defended.

If you, or somebody you know needs an experienced drink driving lawyer to achieve the best possible outcome for a outcome for a drink driving offence, contact Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, for a FREE consultation.

PENALTIES

The penalties for drink driving vary significantly, depending on numerous factors. If you are convicted of a drinking driving offence in NSW, it is almost guaranteed that you will loose your drivers licence, be required to pay a fine and will receive a criminal record. In some instances, offenders could even face terms of imprisonment, particularly if the offence has been made on multiple occasions.

First and foremost, the Court will use the alcohol reading to determine sufficient and fair punishments, relative to the drink driving offence. It is also not uncommon for the less severe penalties to be enforced if you are a first time offender. The penalties incurred for first time drink driving, as per the PCA range are outlined below.

PCA LevelMaximum FineMaximum Term Of ImprisonmentDisqualification Period (Loss of Licence)
Novice Range$1,100N/AAutomatic Period – 6 months
Minimum Period – 3 months
Special Range$1,100N/AAutomatic Period – 6 months
Minimum Period – 3 months
Low Range$1,100N/AAutomatic Period – 6 months
Minimum Period – 3 months
Mid Range$2,2009 monthsAutomatic Period – 12 months
Minimum Period – 6 months
High Range$2,20018 monthsAutomatic Period – 3 years
Minimum Period – 12 months

Alternatively, if the offence has occurred a second time in a 5 year period, the penalties will be more severe. The maximum penalties incurred for second time drink driving offences, as per the PCA range are outline below:

PCA LevelMaximum FineMaximum Term Of ImprisonmentDisqualification Period (Loss of Licence)
Novice Range$2,200N/AAutomatic Period – 12 months
Minimum Period – 6 months
Special Range$2,200N/AAutomatic Period – 12 months
Minimum Period – 6 months
Low Range$2,200N/AAutomatic Period – 12 months
Minimum Period – 6 months
Mid Range$3,30012 monthsAutomatic Period – 3 years
Minimum Period – 12 months
High Range$5,5002 monthsAutomatic Period – 5 years
Minimum Period – 2 years

It is also important to be aware that mid range and high range drink driving could incur a mandatory interlock licence order, where you will be required to regular record your PCA level while driving. The Court may also enforce offender to attend a Traffic Offenders Intervention Program, in which our drink driving lawyers are heavily involved in.

It is also important to be aware that judgment guidelines are in place for drink driving offence which determine how drinking driving offences should be sentenced. The guidelines that apply to drink driving offences include:

  • The degree of intoxication
  • Erratic or reckless driving
  • Competitive driving
  • Length of journey
  • Number of passengers who were at risk

If these factors are determined to be serious in nature, the Court may be more inclined to enforced to most serious of penalties that are relevant to the particular drink driving offence.

Despite the vast range of penalties that may be enforced, our experienced drink driving lawyers can potentially persuade the Court to not record a conviction for your drink driving charge. If we are successful, your matter will be dealt with the by the means of a section 10 dismissal, in which you have been found guilty, although the Court will not impose any penalties or record a conviction. Ultimately, this means that you will not be penalised and your licence will not be revoked. When considering a section 10, the Court will consider:

  • Your age
  • Character
  • Criminal record
  • Health and mental condition
  • Trivial nature of the drink driving offence
  • Any extenuating circumstance

If it is determined that a section 10 is not sufficient punishment pertinent to your specific offence, our drink driving solicitors can still help reduce the ramifications of your penalties. Our drink driving lawyers can help to:

  • Reduce the period that your licence is suspended
  • Minimise the fine you face
  • Help you avoid imprisonment or minimise the sentence for serious offences

GUILTY

To be found guilty of a drink driving offence, the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You were in control of a motor vehicle, and
  • Your PCA was at a level above the legal limit for your specific licence

If the Police are able to successfully substantiate these allegations, it is likely that you will be convicted and face the aforementioned penalties. Therefore, if you tend to agree with the drink driving charges made against you, it may be in your best interest to plead guilty.

Although a guilty plea will result in sentencing, the outcomes can potentially be much more favourable as opposed to being found guilty otherwise. Typically, a guilty plea demonstrates regret for your actions in which the Court may be more inclined to deal with the matter by means of a section 10 dismissal or reduce the maximum penalty.

Furthermore, our Sydney based drink driving lawyers may also be able to negotiate a deal with the prosecution team, given you enter a guilty plea. Again, this will result in a more positive outcome as opposed to being found guilty by the Court, whereby severe penalties will apply.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we work closely with all the clients we represent and provide honest advice if it is in your best interest to plead guilty or not guilty. If you or someone you know is facing drink driving charges, it is advised to seek legal representation immediately.

Call our Sydney traffic infringement lawyers now to schedule a FREE consultation where we can provide tailored advice pertinent to your specific matter.

NOT GUILTY

Alternatively, you can choose to plead not guilty to the allegations made against you. In this instance, it will up the Police to prove that you did commit the offence of drink driving. If they are successful, it is likely you will face conviction.

For your best chance to avoid potentially significant penalties, it is advised to seek representation from our expert drink driving lawyers based in Sydney. Our traffic infringement lawyers will then negate the allegations by using a relevant defence strategy. If we are successful, the Court may completely dismiss the charges. In other instances, the defence strategies may only provide a partial defence. In this case, a less serious sentence will be enforced, or the charges will be downgraded which is much more favourable in comparison to the maximum penalty.

Regardless, as an award winning criminal law firm, we are dedicated to providing our clients with the best possible outcome. If you are facing charges relating to a drink driving offence, contact Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, for a FREE consultation.

THE DEFENCE

In order to dismiss the allegations that you were involved in a drink driving offence, our expert traffic offence lawyers may argue the follow legal defences:

Honest and Reasonable Mistake: The Criminal Codes Act 1995 (Cth) defines circumstances in which a person will not be criminally responsible for particular offences. Under division 9, the Criminal Codes Act states:

9.1: Mistake of ignorance of the fact (fault elements other than negligence).

  1. A person is not criminally responsible for an offence that has a physical element for which there is fault element other than negligence if:
    1. at the time of the conduct constituting the physical element, the person is under a mistaken belief about, or is ignorant of, fact and
    2. the existence of that mistaken belief or ignorance negates any fault element applying to that physical element.
  2. In determining whether a person was under a mistaken belief about, or was ignorant of, fact, the tribunal of fact may consider whether the mistaken belief or ignorance was reasonable in the circumstances.

Therefore, it must be proven that there was a mistaken belief surrounding the incidence. A common example of an honest mistake relating to drink driving offences may be the use of alcohol in foods or common everyday items, which can sometimes record a positive PCA reading. This characters a reasonable mistaken belief in which the accused will be found not guilty of this particular charge.

Unlawful Obtainment of Evidence: As per schedule 3 of the Road Transport Act, the Police must conduct breath tests within 2 hours of you having driven. If it can be proven that breath tests were administered outside of this time frame, the evidence is then admissible in a Court of law and the charges no longer apply. Furthermore, the Police are not lawfully allowed to administer a breath test at the defendant’s home. This rule is commonly referred to as the ‘home safe rule’ and if evidence is provided that you were required to adhere to a breath test at the location of your premises, the PCA reading found in that test is again inadmissible, whereby charges will not apply.

WHICH COURT?

Drink driving is a commonly heard criminal offence in NSW. As a result, the matter will be typically dealt with at a Local Court.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are experienced drink driving solicitors and have successfully represented clients throughout various Local Courts in NSW. For a full list of Local Courts and to find the closest to you, click here.