Driving Under Influence (DUI) or Driving Whilst Intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most common causes of road accidents and deaths. And as everyone has the merit to mobility, it’s equally essential to learn one’s responsibility and ethics when on the road.
Drink driving offences are primarily a dangerous driving violation that involves handling a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than the prescribed amount when measured by a breathalyser. Anything beyond 0.05 per cent is liable for drink driving unless you’re on a zero-blood alcohol concentration licence.
Attending a court hearing
The court’s conviction on whether you’re guilty highly depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. It’s highly advisable to review the details of the charge found in the charge sheet to get an idea of what the police officer indicated about your offence.
In most cases, the police officer will lay two charges. Two of the most common charges include providing a sample of breath or blood that went beyond the prescribed limit during the 3 hours of driving. Another is driving or overseeing a motor vehicle while the BAC is beyond the prescribed limit.
You may tell the court that you’ll plead guilty to any one of the charges, and the police officer will drop the other. Then, the prosecution will need to submit evidence that’ll prove you were driving under the influence of alcohol.
The evidence should confirm that the alcohol reading went beyond the legal amount. To challenge the prosecution’s claim, you’ll need to show that the testing device was malfunctioning during that time or the police officer didn’t correctly use it.
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Potential penalties for drink driving
Disqualification of license
Generally, the magistrate will need to cancel your license if found guilty. They will also disqualify you from driving for a particular period. It would help if you know that the penalty might vary, depending on the charge and when the offence occurred. For instance, if you’re mandated to drive with zero alcohol and your BAC is less than 0.05, the magistrate will cancel your license and debar you from driving for a minimum of three months.
Depending on various factors, there’s a big chance that the magistrate will extend your disqualification period. However, they won’t have the right to reduce it. If you committed the same offence within 10 years, you’d receive twice the minimum disqualification period.
Attending behavioural change programs
Drivers caught driving while under the influence of alcohol will need to attend an entire course of behavioural change program before they will be allowed to submit for another license application. The programs can vary, depending on the level of alcohol found during the driver’s BAC test.
Prohibition to drive
Even when the proceeding is ongoing, you’re not allowed to drive during the disqualification period. Also, there are no licenses that’ll let you drive during the specific time frame.
The magistrate generally gives you a fine of up to 20 penalty units if found guilty of your first offence.
Confiscating or immobilising your vehicle
When found that your BAC is at 0.10 or beyond, the authorities will need to impound your vehicle.
Possible defences to drink driving
The 2-hour rule explains that a police officer cannot mandate a person to send a test, assessment or submit a sample within the two hours after driving. This first defence covers urine samples, blood samples or even an oral fluid test.
Home safe rule
The home safe rule is another defence that you may employ when faced with a drink driving charge. This act sets out that a police officer on duty does not have the right to request a person to submit a test, assessment or sample when they are at their home. It primarily involves any part of the property, such as the front yard or driveway.
Refusal or fail breath analysis
The court defines refusal or fails a breath analysis when the driver of the vehicle is unwilling or unable to provide the police with a breath analysis. The prosecutor needs to provide evidence that’ll support their claim that you are driving a vehicle, requested by a police officer to undergo a breathalyser and that you refused or failed to experience the analysis.
The magistrate will subject you to the mandatory interlock program if found guilty. However, it can be considered revoked if you are granted an exemption. If not convicted for the said office, then you’ll avoid disqualification.
What is a second offence?
A subsequent offence refers to a scenario where a person has been convicted of a significant crime within the past five years. It includes driving while suspended or disqualified, drinking driving and drug abuse.
What is Section 10?
Section 10, otherwise known as non-conviction, refers to a rule of law where the magistrate finds the person guilty but chooses not to record a conviction. Although the proceeding may seem confusing for many people, it’s not entirely the case. The offence will still go onto the convict’s criminal record but becomes spent immediately.
Adversely, if the person is found guilty of the charge and the offence goes onto their criminal record, the conviction will only become tagged as spent once the person completes—10 years without committing any crime.
Once the conviction becomes spent, the court will no longer disclose the record on a criminal record check. For instance, if a potential employer requests a criminal record, the spent conviction will not appear.
When does my drink driving disbarment starts?
For a PCA offence, the police will charge a person, which will cause their license to get immediately suspended. The sentencing court date will get finalise a few months later. A specialist drink driving lawyer will need to apply to the court to reinstate your licence starting from the day of suspension.
The bottom line
To put it simply, it’s relevant to understand the basics of drink driving to help you get an idea of what to do if ever the issue arises. It can impact your future in many ways. So, it’s best to speak with your lawyer before your case gets sent to court.
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