Drink Driving Penalties [NSW]

A reminder for all NSW drivers that penalties and processes for drink driving offences changed in May 2019.

Some of the changes are:

  • Licence suspension immediately                        
  • Fines on the spot
  • Prison Terms
  • Interlock device
  • Vehicle sanctions

High Range PCA [0.15 or above]

Mid Range PCA [blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 to less than 0.15]

Low, novice or special range PCA

Low Range PCA       [blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to less than 0.08]

Novice Range PCA   [blood alcohol concentration more than zero for learner, P1 or P2 drivers]

Special Range PCA [blood alcohol concentration over 0.02 for special category drivers]

What has changed?

Novice, low or special range

A driver who has failed a breath test and is confirmed over the legal limit can be issued with an immediate suspended licence for a period of three months and an on the spot penalty notice.

NSW Police do have the option of charging a first time drink driving offender. This will mean you must attend the court at the time and place outlined in your notice.

However NSW Police can still issue the driver with an immediate licence suspension. It is important to read and comply with the suspension notice provided by the police.

If the driver is a repeat or subsequent offender, they are dealt with by a court. The court can impose higher fines of up to $3,300 and longer periods of up to 6 months for a disqualified licence.

Mid range

All mid-range drink driving offences are dealt with by a court.

A driver who has failed a breath test and is confirmed over the legal limit will receive an immediate suspended licence.

First time offenders convicted of mid range are now required by the court to participate in the interlock program.  The court will issue an ‘interlock order’ outlining the period the licence is disqualified and how long they must participate in the program. This program is also for repeat or subsequent offenders.

The court can issue a disqualification for a period of nine months for a first offence and up to 12 months for a repeat or subsequent offence.

If the court finds the defendant guilty of mid-range drink driving the maximum fine for a first offence is up to $2,200 and $3,300 for repeat or subsequent offence.

If convicted of mid-range drink driving you can be sentenced up to nine months imprisonment for a first offence and up to 12 months imprisonment for repeat or subsequent offence.

High range

All high-range drink driving offences are dealt with by a court.

A driver who has failed a breath test and is confirmed over the legal limit will receive an immediate suspended licence.

Drink driving offences convicted in the high range whether first or subsequent offence the court is required to make an ‘interlock order’ outlining how long the offender is disqualified and how long they must participate in the interlock program.

The court can issue a disqualification for a period of twelve months for a first offence and up to 2 years for a repeat or subsequent offence.

If the court finds the defendant guilty of high-range drink driving the maximum fine for a first offence is up to $3,300 and $5,500 for repeat or subsequent offence.

Vehicle sanctions scheme applies to repeat, high risk drink drivers. The period is usually for three months. The NSW police can confiscate number plates at the roadside or impound the vehicle.

If convicted of high-range drink driving you can be sentenced up to eighteen months imprisonment for a first offence and up to 2 years imprisonment for repeat or subsequent offence.

Immediate licence suspension

If you are issued with an immediate suspension you will no longer be permitted to drive a vehicle. You will need to leave the vehicle parked on the roadside or organise another driver to move the vehicle.

You are able to appeal against the suspension in court. However be aware you are not permitted to drive until you attend the court and your appeal is successful.

Significant penalties apply for driving while you have suspended licence.

Interlock devices

If you have been convicted of certain drink driving offences, it is mandatory for the NSW courts to issue an Interlock Order. This devices allows the convicted driver to resume driving earlier than would otherwise be the case.

Within four weeks prior to the end of your disqualification period you need to obtain a ‘Drink-less’ medical certificate from your doctor.

Once your disqualification period has ended, you are able to apply for an interlock driver’s licence. However to qualify for this licence an interlock device is required to be fitted to your vehicle.

If you have been charged with a drink driving offence and require legal advice or representation please contact Blackwell Short on [02] 6393 9200 or email bsl.reception@blackwellshort.com.au.

The information in this article is subject to changes.

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CategoryTraffic Offences