Drink & Drug Driving Lawyers Sydney CBD

Level 1,299 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000

 Click Here to call: Tel (02) 80657884

 

 

Traffic Law Charges (Driving Offences)
We have legally represented hundreds of clients over the past 17 years in relation to the following criminal charges commenced by the NSW Police:
  • Drug Driving Manslaughter
  • Drink Driving (click this link to the guideline judgement: High Range Drinking Driving Guideline Judgement.htm
  • Drug Driving
  • Speeding
  • Drive in Manner Menacing
  • Reckless Driving
  • Drive Whilst Disqualified
  • Drive Whilst Suspended
  • Drive Manner Menacing
  • Radar Detected Charges
  • Dangerous Driving Causing Death
  • Negligent Driving Causing Death
  • Licence Appeals
  • Rams Appeals

 

Drink & Drug Driving

We have appeared in hundreds of drink driving and drug driving matters in Local Courts all over the Sydney metropolitan area as well as the outer suburbs and country Courts as far away as Gosford and Woolongong . In NSW, police have the powers to stop drivers at random to test for alcohol consumption. If you are asked by police to undertake a breath test and subsequently obtain a reading that is higher that your allowed Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) limit, you are likely to be arrested and charged with one of the following:

 

Blood Alcohol Levels

 
Low Range PCA:   0.05 - 0.08
Mid Range PCA:    0.08 - 0.15
High Range PCA:   0.15 or higher
Novice Range PCA:   0.00 - 0.02
Special Range PCA:   0.02 - 0.05
Refuse Breath Analysis

Possible Defences to a Drink Driving Charge


There are several ways that you may have a drink driving charge dismissed against you or possibly reduce the charge, eg. a High Range PCA to a Mid Range or having a Mid Range PCA reduced to a Low Range:

  1. You were not driving a motor vehicle.
  2. The breath analysis back at the Police Station took place outside of 2 hours from the time you were driving.
  3. A breath test was taken at your home.
We frequently also arrange for our clients to obtain a pharmacology report from a Professor. It is possible that the Police PCA reading is incorrect and in having "borderline' readings reduced to a lesser offence, these reports can assist you. A Professor will take into consideration a number of factors before concluding what they believe your actual PCA reading would have been. A court can accept such evidence. Factors considered by the pharmacologist Professor which can affect your PCA reading are:
  1. Your height and weight.
  2. Your gender.
  3. Your age.
  4. Your body build.
  5. Your food intake on the day in question.
  6. Your alcohol intake on the day in question.
  7. If you were taking any prescribed or over the counter medication.

Offences & penalties

 

Alcohol & drug offences

Reaching or exceeding your demerit points limit

If you reach or exceed the limit for demerit points within a 3 year period, your licence will be suspended.

Read more about demerit points.

Immediate licence suspension

Police may immediately suspend and confiscate your licence for the following offences:

  • A serious driving offence causing death or grievous bodily harm
  • Speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the speed limit
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) offences
  • A prescribed concentration of alcohol drink driving offence
  • A street racing offence
  • An aggravated burnout offence. The definition of an aggravated burnout includes a hoon driver's mates who willingly participate in, urge others to participate in, photograph or film to promote or organise hoon activity
  • Learner or provisional licence holders speeding in excess of 30 km/h over the speed limit whilst the holder of a learner or provisional licence
  • Learner licence holders driving without supervision.

Police can suspend and confiscate a licence either on the spot or within 48 hours of a person being charged or issued a penalty notice for a relevant offence. This means you may have to arrange for your vehicle to be collected by someone else.

Where a person is charged by police with one of the offences, the suspension will remain until the offence is heard by a court. If you are convicted and disqualified by the court, the court will take the period you have served under suspension when imposing the disqualification period into account.

If you are issued with a penalty notice for a lower range drink driving offence, the suspension will apply for 3 months.

If you are issued a penalty notice for speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the limit, the suspension will apply for six months.

If you hold a learner or provisional licence and are issued a penalty notice for speeding in excess of 30 km/h but not more than 45 km/h over the limit, or a learner driver driving unaccompanied by a supervising driver, the suspension will apply for a three months.

Camera-detected excessive speed offences are not included in the immediate licence suspension scheme. Roads and Maritime Services may apply a suspension following payment of the penalty notice.

Appeals - immediate licence suspensions

You have the right to appeal the immediate licence suspension at a local court.

You must lodge the appeal with a court within 28 days of being issued the suspension notice. You can file online, or go to a NSW local court. A fee is payable to the court when lodging an appeal.

Unless the court in the meantime orders otherwise, you must not drive unless the court upholds your appeal.

Demerit Points

Demerit points and fines also apply to speeding offences.

 

The Fines Amendment Act 2019

 

On 1 July 2020, the Fines Amendment Act 2019 was introduced. Designed to make the fines system fairer for people experiencing hardship, the changes include:
  • an easing of time restrictions to allow more time to choose to have a matter heard in court, request a review or nominate the responsible driver
  • customers can choose to receive fines digitally
  • all customers can choose to pay their fines via a payment plan
  • people in acute financial hardship, who are in receipt of a Government benefit at the time of being fined, can apply to Revenue NSW to be considered for a 50 per cent reduction for some fines before the fine becomes overdue.
The 50 per cent reduction does not apply to:
  • any fine issued by a court (including a penalty that originated as a penalty notice prior being dealt with by a court)
  • voting fines
  • jury duty fines
  • fines issued to corporate bodies 
Customers will be considered for payment plans and non-financial ways to resolve fines through Work and Development Orders (WDO) before a reduced penalty amount is considered.
 
So far this change has mostly benefitted people on Age or Disability pensions who had no WDO options available to them.

Drivers Visiting NSW

If you are a visiting driver and do not hold a NSW driver licence, your permission to drive in NSW can be withdrawn under the same provisions.

See Visiting NSW for more information about driving in NSW on an interstate or overseas licence.

Licence Disqualification

If a court disqualifies you from driving, your licence will be automatically cancelled.

Disqualified from driving means you cannot drive a vehicle at all until the period of disqualification or cancellation has expired and a licence is reissued.

There are heavy penalties for driving while disqualified or cancelled, including jail terms.

Multiple disqualifications for unauthorised driving offences will be able to run concurrently, unless otherwise ordered by the court.

A driver licence suspension issued by the police for certain serious driving offences will start immediately and before any other suspension on the licence.

Drivers who have long disqualification periods may be able to apply for their disqualification periods to be lifted by the court. See Licence disqualification reforms for more information.

Police impounding of motor vehicles and confiscation of number plates

Police can impound vehicles and confiscate number plates from drivers who continue driving unlicensed or disqualified.

Vehicles will be impounded for a period of three months when a disqualified driver is caught exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h.

Police will also impound a vehicle for six months when a disqualified driver commits an offence.

Number plates can also be confiscated for three or six months depending on the offence.

Habitual offenders

The Habitual Offender Scheme has ended. Evidence showed the scheme did not meet the needs of the community.

 

 

 

Click this link to read the Guideline Judgment which guides the Courts on how to approach sentencing a person convicted of High Range Drink Driving: High Range Drinking Driving Guideline Judgement.htm

 

The NSW Traffic Offender's Intervention  Program

 
Further assistance we provide which may in certain circumstances  mitigate the sentence imposed include booking you into the Traffic Offender's Program which teaches people about the dangers of drink driving and may in the Court's eyes lower the likelihood of re-offending. The course runs between 6 - 8 weeks.
 
The Police and Community Youth Cubs (PDYCs) are the largest provider of Traffic Offender Intervention Programs in NSW. The aim is to prevent people re-offending by providing educational seminars that inform people as to the effects alcohol and drugs have on driving.
 
This is a Local Court based program targeting offenders who have entered pleas of guilty at Court or have been found guilty of a traffic offence. On the application of the defendant or the defendant's solicitor or the Court's motion the presiding  magistrate may make an Order that the matter is adjourned until the course is completed by the defendant.
 
The program is regulated under the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) and the Criminal Procedure Amendment (Traffic Offender Intervention Program ) Regulation 2007.
 
On completion of the program the PDYC normally fax a copy of the Completion Certificate directly to the Local Court Criminal Registry and it is placed on the defendant's  Court file. Upon sentence the defendant's solicitor may then submit that completion of the course is relevant in the Court's consideration of the subjective mitigating factors relating to the defendant. These factors include:
 
1. lowers the likelihood of re-offending
2. evidences that the defendant has taken responsibility for the offence;
3. In some cases evidences contrition and remorse on the part of the defendant.
 
This may assist a person charged with drink or drug driving in persuading the Court to exercise its discretion by reducing the mandatory disqualification period to the minimum.
 
Sydney Criminal and Family Lawyers can assist you by advising you in relation to this program further and booking you in.
  
What could happen to you?
 
You will lose your licence for some time unless the court decides not to record a conviction against you ? this is set out in the table below. You may also have to pay a fine. Other penalties can also be imposed, including a gaol sentence. If you are likely to go to gaol and you satisfy the Legal Aid means test, you may be able to get legal aid. See the duty solicitor at court.
If you disagree with what the police say happened, you may tell the Magistrate when it is your turn to speak.
 
The police prosecutor should also show you a copy of your previous criminal record if you have one and a copy of your driving history. Read these documents to make sure they really are yours. The police prosecutor will hand the Magistrate a
copy of your criminal record and traffic history. You should dispute any incorrect information on your
criminal record or traffic history.

 

What could happen to me?
 
If this is the first time you have been charged with DUI Drug offence, it is unlikely you will get a jail sentence. However, if: a) it is a DUI Drug offence; that is using or attempting to use a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug and if it involves aggravating features such as an accident and/or dangerous driving, a goal penalty is more likely and you may therefore be eligible for legal aid; or b) you have previously been charged with a drink driving offence or DUI Drug offence, you face the risk of a jail penalty and may be eligible for legal aid. In these situations, you should apply for legal aid before your first court appearance or visit a Legal Aid NSW office. Speak to the duty solicitor at court.
 
How should you prepare for court?
 
Get references and prepare a letter to the Magistrate or written notes of what you will say. It may be helpful to get written references from people who can talk about your good character. These references should be addressed to the Magistrate and refer to the current charges. Ask for the Legal Aid information card about Character References. The court will consider a number of factors in deciding the appropriate penalty and disqualification. These include:
  • Whether you believed you were under the influence of a drug when you drove;
  • Any particular reason as to why you chose to drive;
  • Whether you were detected by being stopped by Police for another reason or Random Drug Test or as a result of erratic or dangerous driving;
  • The length of the journey/intended journey;
  • The number of people put at risk by the driving (passengers, members of the public etc)
  • Any collision that occurred;
  • Any significant effect that licence disqualification may have on you, your employment or other people who rely on you (children, sick relative, etc);
  • The absence of viable alternative transport;
  • How long you have held a licence and what your overall traffic record is like;
  • Whether you are a regular drug user and hence whether some kind of treatment or counselling is appropriate
  • The risk of you re-offending Either prepare a short letter in your own words to give to the Magistrate, or prepare written notes.Include any explanation that relates to the factors set out above. In particular, address:
  • Any special reason why you were driving;
  • Some explanation as to why you were driving with drugs in your system
  • An explanation of your understanding of the risks of driving after consuming drugs, and if you can, an assurance that this behaviour will not be repeated
  • Any particular need you have for a licence eg. In your work or for personal reasons;
  • If you need a driver?s licence for work make sure you have a letter from your employer to say what will happen to your job if you are disqualified from driving for a long time;
  •  If you have other reasons for needing a driver?s licence (eg. A disabled child, health problems) make sure you have evidence (ie.  Doctor's certificate or report) to support this;
  • What your weekly income is and expenses you have to pay (which can assist the court in calculating any fine to be imposed).
What should you do at court?

You should not drive to court in case you lose your licence. Bring your licence with you unless the police have already taken it, as the court may require you to surrender it. When you get to court, find the court officer and tell them if you are unrepresented and whether you are pleading guilty. Check the police fact sheet and certificate The police will have a fact sheet which says why you were arrested. It may also refer to what the police say you told them about the type and quantity of  drug you used. Make sure you read the fact sheet.
 
It is important to be legally represented if charged with one or more of the above-mentioned offences in order to obtain the best possible outcome for you in the circumstances of your case taking into consideration the objective and subjective circumstances of your case. At SCFL we have the knowledge, skill and experience to achieve this for you.
 

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Licence suspension and cancellation

Drink and drug driving reforms

 

From 20 May 2019, tougher penalties apply for lower range drink driving offences, and for driving with the presence of an illicit drug.

The change is part of a number of reforms in the Road Safety Plan 2021 to reduce alcohol and drug related trauma on NSW roads.

 

Reaching or exceeding your demerit points limit

If you reach or exceed the limit for demerit points within a 3 year period, your licence will be suspended.

Read more about demerit points.

Immediate licence suspension

Police may immediately suspend and confiscate your licence for the following offences:

  • A serious driving offence causing death or grievous bodily harm
  • Speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the speed limit
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) offences
  • A prescribed concentration of alcohol drink driving offence
  • A street racing offence
  • An aggravated burnout offence. The definition of an aggravated burnout includes a hoon driver's mates who willingly participate in, urge others to participate in, photograph or film to promote or organise hoon activity
  • Learner or provisional licence holders speeding in excess of 30 km/h over the speed limit whilst the holder of a learner or provisional licence
  • Learner licence holders driving without supervision.

Police can suspend and confiscate a licence either on the spot or within 48 hours of a person being charged or issued a penalty notice for a relevant offence. This means you may have to arrange for your vehicle to be collected by someone else.

Where a person is charged by police with one of the offences, the suspension will remain until the offence is heard by a court. If you are convicted and disqualified by the court, the court will take the period you have served under suspension when imposing the disqualification period into account.

If you are issued with a penalty notice for a lower range drink driving offence, the suspension will apply for 3 months.

If you are issued a penalty notice for speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the limit, the suspension will apply for six months.

If you hold a learner or provisional licence and are issued a penalty notice for speeding in excess of 30 km/h but not more than 45 km/h over the limit, or a learner driver driving unaccompanied by a supervising driver, the suspension will apply for a three months.

Camera-detected excessive speed offences are not included in the immediate licence suspension scheme. Roads and Maritime Services may apply a suspension following payment of the penalty notice.

Appeals - immediate licence suspensions

You have the right to appeal the immediate licence suspension at a local court.

You must lodge the appeal with a court within 28 days of being issued the suspension notice. You can file online, or go to a NSW local court. A fee is payable to the court when lodging an appeal.

Unless the court in the meantime orders otherwise, you must not drive unless the court upholds your appeal.

Demerit points

Demerit points and fines also apply to speeding offences.

Drivers visiting NSW

If you are a visiting driver and do not hold a NSW driver licence, your permission to drive in NSW can be withdrawn under the same provisions.

See Visiting NSW for more information about driving in NSW on an interstate or overseas licence.

Licence disqualification

If a court disqualifies you from driving, your licence will be automatically cancelled.

Disqualified from driving means you cannot drive a vehicle at all until the period of disqualification or cancellation has expired and a licence is reissued.

There are heavy penalties for driving while disqualified or cancelled, including jail terms.

Multiple disqualifications for unauthorised driving offences will be able to run concurrently, unless otherwise ordered by the court.

A driver licence suspension issued by the police for certain serious driving offences will start immediately and before any other suspension on the licence.

Drivers who have long disqualification periods may be able to apply for their disqualification periods to be lifted by the court. See Licence disqualification reforms for more information.

Police impounding of motor vehicles and confiscation of number plates

Police can impound vehicles and confiscate number plates from drivers who continue driving unlicensed or disqualified.

Vehicles will be impounded for a period of three months when a disqualified driver is caught exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h.

Police will also impound a vehicle for six months when a disqualified driver commits an offence.

Number plates can also be confiscated for three or six months depending on the offence.

Habitual offenders

The Habitual Offender Scheme has ended. Evidence showed the scheme did not meet the needs of the community.

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