Drink Driving

Have you been charged with a drink driving offence? Talk to Us.

The Road Transport Act 2013 contains and governs drink driving laws in NSW. In May 2019, the drink driving laws changed significantly. In particular, the new changes have meant that ‘immediate licence suspensions’ allow police to suspend people for certain drink driving offences on the spot, and the introduction of fines and on the spot licence disqualifications for low range drink driving as opposed to charges in court.

Drink Driving Categories

Broadly, drink driving offences may be broken down into the following categories (normally based on alcohol in one’s breath):

Penalties for Drink Driving Offences

Each of the above offences has a prescribed penalty. Usually, in addition to the court-imposed penalty, a drink driver would normally have their driver licence disqualified for a certain period of time. For some offences, including Mid-range and High-range Drink Driving Charges, the law mandates that every driver is to participate in the Mandatory Interlock Program, unless an exception is applied for.

Penalties that may be imposed in addition to a licence disqualification

Generally, upon sentencing you for a drink driving offence, the court has the power to impose the following penalties:
  1. A Non-Conviction Order with no further penalty (or Section 9(1)(a) order. This order means that the offence is proven, but no criminal conviction is recorded on your criminal record, and no further penalty applies. The matter is simply dismissed with no further penalty.
  2. A Non-Conviction Order (or Section 9(1)(b) order). This is a good behaviour bond without a conviction. You will need to remain of good behaviour (and not breach the good behaviour bond through the commission of another offence that brings you back before the court) for the duration of the good behaviour period.
  3. A conviction with no further penalty pursuant to Section 10A. This means you have been convicted of the offence (and it appears on your criminal record) but no further penalty applies.
  4. A Good Behaviour Bond with Conviction. There are two types of good behaviour bonds with conviction; first, the Conditional Release Order with conviction. This is a good behaviour bond for a period of time with a conviction on your criminal record. The second is a Community Corrections Order. This is also a good behaviour bond for a period of time and usually is accompanied with either community service or supervision.
  5. Community Service Order. This is an order that you perform a certain amount of community service hours. Usually, the community service hours are accompanied by a good behaviour bond and usually the community service hours need to be completed during the duration of the good behaviour bond. The court needs to assess you as suitable to undertake community service if an order of this type is imposed by the court.
  6. An Intensive Corrections Order. This is an alternative to full-time jail. This order is usually imposed for very serious offending and is a direct alternative to you spending time in jail. An Intensive Corrections Order is usually ‘intense’, and will incorporate community service hours, a good behaviour bond, and stringent conditions during the duration of the order. If you breach an Intensive Corrections Order, the Parole Authority has the power to impose a period of full-time jail upon you (depending on the level of the breach).
  7. Full-time jail. This is an order that you spend a certain period of time in jail. Serious drink driving offences and repeat offences generally attract these penalties. An order imposing full-time jail is usually an order of last resort, and the court must consider the availability and appropriateness of other alternative penalties before imposing a period of full-time jail as a penalty. It is important that you are represented by a knowledgeable and competent criminal defence lawyer if charged with serious drink driving offences.

Mandatory Interlock Program for some offences

Offences relating to Mid-range and High-range drink driving attract an immediate licence suspension by police at the road-side (in most cases), and always attract the implementation of the Mandatory Interlock Scheme. The Mandatory Interlock Scheme refers to the installation of an interlock device into the intended vehicle to be driven by a person who, upon conviction of certain drink driving offences, must blow into the device (and record a NIL reading of alcohol) to start the vehicle.Contact us if you or anyone you know has been charged with a drink driving offence. We specialise in drink driving law, and are able to assist you.

Page Author: Saba Rezae - Traffic Lawyer Sydney

Saba Rezae is our Principal Lawyer and founder of Rezae & Co Lawyers who has practised exclusively in criminal and traffic law for several years. His exceptional results and ability to provide legal service at the highest standard saw him head-hunted by the largest specialist criminal law firms in NSW and was quickly promoted to Senior Lawyer before establishing his own practice.

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