Dui – Some Misconceptions
Weve all heard of DUI (driving under the influence). Many of us have friends or acquaintances that have been caught out by the booze bus. Some might even say its fairly common; a nothing offence. Drinking alcohol and jumping behind the wheel was pretty much the norm in our grandparents day, right?
Times have changed.
These days, getting caught drink driving has more serious consequences. And most local court magistrates dont look too kindly on offenders, particularly repeat offenders.
So what can you expect when a police breathalyser records an alcohol reading above the legal limit and you know youre busted?
It depends how over the limit you are. And whether you have a history of drink driving.
These days, legislation for drink driving uses the term Prescribed Content Alcohol (PCA) offences, rather than the more generic DUI. Depending on the alcohol reading, there are three main PCA offences low range (0.05 0.079), middle range (0.08 0.149) and high range (0.15 and over).
The legislation is pretty black and white when it comes to penalties. You will have to go to Court. For low range offences the maximum fine is $1,100 and there is an automatic loss of licence for 6 months. For high range offences it escalates to $3,300, a 3 year licence disqualification period, and a maximum of 18 months in gaol. Penalties become more severe with every repeat offence.
Of course, the Magistrate can give a lesser penalty, but each offence has a set minimum fine, disqualification period, and gaol term. Getting anything less than the minimum is rare.
As a general rule, you are likely to lose your licence for a period of time. This can impact on your ability to work, and your familys mobility. Plus youll have a criminal record.
Most people charged with PCA offences plead guilty. Unless you have pretty strong evidence to show that the police did not follow procedure, or that the alcohol reading was incorrect, theres little point arguing with fact.
But there are ways to convince the Court to reduce the penalty. If, for example, your record is extremely good, or its your first offence, you could end up with a Good Behaviour Bond and no conviction. But this is rare. The Court is also influenced by things like whether you have undertaken the Traffic Offenders program, how much you need a licence, and your general character. Providing character references can help show that you are an upstanding citizen who made a one-off error of judgement.
There is a misconception out there about drink driving and how easy it is to get off with no penalty. The local court sees its fair share of PCA offences and many magistrates now take a tough stand on offenders.