The reality is that if this has happened to you in New South Wales you are likely to be the subject of either a lengthy license disqualification period or can even face serving a goal sentence.

Any period of disqualification is to commence on the date of conviction: s 207A(1). However, the court may order that the disqualification begins on a later date: s 207A(2).

The table below is a summary of the penalties you may be subject to if caught drink driving. The offence of drink driving is often referred to by Police and the legal industry as a “PCA offence”, which describes the Prescribed Content of Alcohol drivers are limited to have in their blood stream by law.

Prescribed concentrations: s 108 Penalty

[s 110]

Disqualification

[s 205]

Mandatory interlock

[s 211]

Initial disqualification + mandatory interlock period
  Fine Impris Auto Min Min disq Max disq  
High Range

0.15 or >

First offence $3300 18 mths 3 yrs 12 mths 6 mths 9 mths 24 mths
Second offence $5500 2 yrs 5 yrs 2 yrs 9 mths 12 mths 48 mths
Mid Range 0.08 – < 0.15
First offence $2200 9 mths 12 mths 6 mths
Second offence $3300 12 mths 3 yrs 12 mths 6 mths 9 mths 24 mths
Low Range

0.05 – < 0.08                       

First offence $1100 Nil 6 mths 3 mths
Second offence $2200 Nil 12 mths 6 mths 1 mth 3 mths 12 mths
Special Range

0.02 – 0.05

First offence $1100 Nil 6 mths 3 mths
Second offence $2200 Nil 12 mths 6 mths 1 mth 3 mths 12 mths
Novice, nil permitted
First offence $1100 Nil 6 mths 3 mths
Second offence $2200 Nil 12 mths 6 mths 1 mth 3 mths 12 mths
Refuse breath analysis/blood sample:
Sch 3 cll 16(1)(b) or 17(1)(1a)
First offence $3300 18 mths 3 yrs 12 mths 6 mths 9 mths 24 mths
Second offence $5500 2 yrs 5 yrs 2 yrs 9 mths 12 mths 48 mths
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drug: s 112(1)(a), (b)
First offence $2200 9 mths 12 mths 6 mths
Second offence $3300 12 mths 3 yrs 12 mths 6 mths (alcohol only) 9 mths

(alcohol only)

24 mths (alcohol only)

Under the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act, a police officer may require you to submit to a breath analysis. If your initial reading is over the prescribed limit, the test the police officer may ask you to wait up to 20 minutes and ask you to undergo a further basic test. This is generally to rule out any mouth alcohol from a recent drink.

In the event the reading you provide is higher than the limit for your driving conditions you may be asked to undergo a breath analysis either at the nearest station or at a nearby testing facility. The machine used to provide a more accurate reading is known as a Drager Alcotest instrument and is specifically calibrated to more accurately record your blood alcohol level. If you are still above the legal limit you will likely have your license suspended on the spot and it will be confiscated.

Remember, although you may wish to tell your story it is best to not answer any questions other than those required of you by law (the police officer will advise you of any questions which are required to be answered by law).

When arrested and charged with a PCA offence you will need to attend court on the nominated date. This is the day where your lawyer can plead your sentence down and depending on your circumstances may be able to lessen a disqualification period as prescribed in the table above.

Lowering a disqualification period is at the discretion of the court and depends on your subjective circumstances, the facts surrounding the offence, your criminal and traffic record.
Section 10 of the 
Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 provides a discretionary power to the Magistrate who hears your sentencing to discharge you for your PCA offence without recording a conviction. When this power is exercised there is no resulting loss of licence.

Once you have been given a Court Attendance Notice by the police with your first court date, call our office on (02) 9249 7375 to arrange for a free initial consultation to discuss your matter. Where appropriate, we will argue for the court to use its discretion in dismissing your matter pursuant to section 10.

Drug Driving in NSW

What is Drug Driving?

It is an offence in New South Wales to drive a motor vehicle whilst there is a presence of an illicit drug in your oral fluid, blood or urine. It is also an offence to drive a vehicle while under the influence of any drug.

Whilst this offence has been enforced for some time it is becoming more prevalent since the introduction of road side testing.

Illicit detectable drugs include:

  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component of (‘ice’, ‘speed’, ‘crystal meth’ ‘base’ etc)

  • Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA or ‘ecstasy’) heroin, cocaine etc

What happens if you are asked to undergo a drug driving test?

This will likely take place similarly to a random breath test. First you will provide a sample of your saliva whilst in your vehicle which can indicate a positive reading. If you produce a positive reading you will likely be asked to supply a further sample (or samples) that are tested in a more complex machine. This test can take up to 20 minutes and you can be asked to wait in the testing area or you can be asked to attend the police station to provide a urine or blood sample.

If a blood or urine test discloses the presence of Heroin or Cocaine, then this legislation also provides for prosecuting for the presence of these drugs.

In the unfortunate event you are found to have an illicit substance in your system your licence will be suspended on the spot for 24 hours and the remainder of the saliva sample (or will be sent for laboratory analysis. If the laboratory tests return as positive you will later be informed by the NSW Police service of the result and you will need to attend court.

Penalties for Drug Driving

As with drink driving offences there are minimum penalties that can apply from fines to lengthy disqualification periods. The table below can be used as a guide to some of the penalties which could be imposed in the event you are found to have been driving under the influence of an illicit substance.

Offence Penalties First Offence Second or subsequent offence
Drive under the influence of alcohol or another drug Maximum court- imposed fine $2,200 $3,300
Maximum gaol term 9 months 12 months
Disqualification
Minimum 6 months 12 months
Maximum unlimited unlimited
Automatic 12 months 3 years
Drive with the presence of any of the following drugs in oral fluid, blood or urine: 

– Active THC (Cannabis),

– Methylamphetamine (Speed/ice) or

– Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA or ‘ecstasy’).

Maximum court- imposed fine $1,100 $2,200
Disqualification
-minimum 3 months 6 months
-maximum 6 months unlimited
-automatic 6 months 12 months
Drive with the presence of drugs in blood or urine: Maximum court -imposed fine $1,100 $2,200
Disqualification
Minimum 3 months 6 months
Maximum 6 months unlimited
Automatic 6 months 12 months

The period of disqualification is to commence on the date of conviction: s 207A(1). However, the court may order that the disqualification begins on a later date: s 207A(2).

Once you have been given a Court Attendance Notice by the police with your first court date, call our office on (02) 9249 7375 to arrange for a consultation to discuss your matter. Where appropriate, we will argue for the court to use its discretion in dismissing your matter pursuant to section 10.

Other major driving offences (Disqualified, suspended or cancelled driving)

  First offence   Second offence

[Previously convicted under ss 53(3), 54 or any major offence within 5 yrs: s 9(5)]

Fine Imprisonment Automatic disqualificatin Fine Imprisonment Automatic disqualification
Auto Min Auto Min
Disqualified: s 54(1) $3300 6 mths 6 mths 3 mths $5500 12 mths 12 mths 6 mths
Suspended: s 54(3) $3300 6 mths 6 mths 3 mths $5500 12 mths 12 mths 6 mths
Cancelled: s 54(4) $3300 6 mths 6 mths 3 mths $5500 12 mths 12 mths 6 mths
Suspended/cancelled under s 66 Fines Act: s 54(5) $3300 Nil 3 mths 1 mth $5500 6 mths 12 mths 3 mths
Unlicensed: s 53(1) $2200 Nil Time unspecified Time unspecified No provision No provision Time unspecified Time unspecified
Never licenced: s 53(3) $2200 Nil  

Time unspecified

Time unspecified $3300 6 mths 12 mths 3 mths

Street Racing

Whilst many people enjoy fast cars and loud exhausts on their cars there is generally a place for it, specifically, your local track day. The New South Wales police do not look lightly on a drag race on public roads.
The Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 contains provisions that allow for what are often referred to as “hoon” or “street racing” laws.
Section 40(1) of this Act explains what constitutes a street or drag race and the penalties listed below are some of the discretionary penalties a court can impose:

Penalty First Offence Second or subsequent offence
Maximum court imposed fine $3,300.00 $3,300.00
Maximum gaol term n/a 2 years
Maximum disqualification Unlimited Unlimited
Automatic period 12 months 12 months

If you are pulled over and told by a police officer you are being arrested or having your licence suspended as a result of street or drag racing it is important that you follow any direction given to you by a police officer and surrender your license. You will not be able to drive again until the court determines the matter. It is also imperative that you do no not say anything to the police regarding the speed you were doing or any vehicles which may or may not have been racing with you.

As well as the possible penalties listed above it is important to remember that the NSW police have the authority to confiscate your vehicle if the car was used for drag/street racing. Often the vehicle will be clamped or the driver given a notice to produce the vehicle to a particular location within 10 days.

Once found guilty of street/drag racing for a third time, there is a possibility that the vehicle could be confiscated by the government to be sold or even used by the RTA for crash testing.

If you receive a notice for street/drag racing contact us immediately as repeated offences could result in heavy fines, gaol terms, confiscation or contribute to you being declared a habitual traffic offender.

If you have been charged with the above offence, please contact our office on (02) 9249 7375 at your soonest convenience to arrange for a free initial consultation. During this consultation, we can discuss the likely outcome of your matter including any possible defences available to you.

Speeding Offences

Just because you are pulled over and given an infringement notice (or for more serious speeding matters a Court Attendance Notice (CAN)), it does not mean that you simply need to pay the fine or appear at court accepting what you are charged with.
You may hold a very strong belief that the speed you were told you travelled is incorrect. If this is the case then we may be able to help you. We address the methods the police use to determine your speed and you can be sure that they police do not always do things correctly.

There is a protocol that NSW Police must follow when using hand held speed guns, be they Lidar or Radar which is not always applied correctly. If you are pulled over whilst driving remember these simple tips:

  • Always be polite and provide your drivers’ license to the officer as this is a legal requirement;

  • You may politely ask to see the speed reading on the gun or instrument the officer used to calculate your speed;

  • If you are advised that you have exceeded the speed limit by 40km/h or more and asked to hand over your drivers license you must hand it over; and

  • When asked “how fast do you think you were going?” you are not required to respond or engage in conversation. Remember, once you have provided your personal details you are not obliged to say anything.

Many patrol vehicles are equipped with audio and video surveillance equipment and if you believe the reading was incorrect or were unfairly targeted a video of your alleged conduct can always be brought to the court’s attention in the event you wish challenge the infringement notice.

Now many people will say “I honestly didn’t think I was speeding”. Believe it or not that can be a defence to speeding. What this means is that in circumstances where you were driving for example on a highway and you believed you were travelling to the limit and are booked at 10km/h over the limit there can be a defence if you can show that perhaps your speedometer is not calibrated correctly causing the misreading. Whilst this sort of defence is available it is difficult to prove you had a reasonable belief you were travelling within the speed limit.

The reality is sometimes you cannot avoid facing the court in a severe traffic offence or high speeding infringement. What we do in this situation is prepare your case for the purposes of reducing any possible, fine, disqualification period or in more severe matters or if you are known to the court for prior indiscretions, any gaol time that may apply.