High Range Drink Driving in NSW


Driving a motor vehicle on a road or in a place connected to a road with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.15 in the breath or blood constitutes the offence of driving with a high range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA), as defined by section 110(5) of the Road Transport Act 2013. This page describes the high range drunk driving offense in New South Wales along with the associated punishments.

The courts take this offense very seriously, especially in cases when the offender has a history of drunk driving offenses. The highest penalty for a first high range DUI offense is 30 penalty units, and it can also result in an 18-month jail sentence. The punishment for a second or subsequent offense is up to 50 penalty units in fines and/or two years in jail. A mandatory disqualification period and interlock order are also applicable to this offense.

The court must consider a guideline judgment that gives the court guidance regarding the range of suitable penalties for offenses of this type while calculating the sentence for high range drunk driving offenses.

Disqualification Periods

Depending on whether it is the offender’s first or second offense, the Road Transport Amendment (Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program) Act 2014 establishes a mandatory disqualification time for high range drunk drive offenses.

The minimum and maximum disqualification periods for first offenses are six and nine months, respectively, and an interlock order is also imposed. A three-year or 12-month automatic disqualification period applies when an interlock exemption order is made.

If an interlock order is also made, the minimum and maximum disqualification periods for second or subsequent offenders are nine months and twelve months, respectively. If an interlock exemption order is granted, the offender will automatically be disqualified for five years if they have committed another serious offense within the previous five years. The three-year automatic exclusion term applies if there hasn’t been a major offense in the previous five years. The court cannot impose a lesser, larger, or conditional disqualification; these orders of disqualification are automatic upon conviction.

Mandatory Interlock Orders

High range drink driving offenses are automatically subject to mandatory interlock orders.

Interlock orders that are required happen in two steps. They mandate that a motorist obtain and serve a certain amount of time on an interlock license after first disqualifying them for a period of time between the minimum and maximum periods specified for the offense. Their car is fitted with an interlock device during this time.

When a motorist is found guilty, an automatic mandatory interlock order will be imposed unless they are eligible for an interlock exemption order.

In order to be excluded from a mandatory interlock order, an individual must meet the requirements outlined in Section 212 of the Road Transport Act of 2013. This clause mandates:

(a) That the person lacks access to a car where an interlock device may be installed, or

(b) That it is not reasonably practicable for them to install the device because they have a medical condition that has been identified and that precludes them from giving a satisfactory breath sample.

Guideline Judgment

Owing to disparities in sentencing for serious PCA offenses, the Attorney General created a ruling with guidelines to help magistrates and courts punish criminals fairly. According to the guideline ruling, driving while intoxicated in the high range is considered a “ordinary offence” under the following situations:

  1. Drove in order to escape trouble or didn’t think they were going over the limit;
  2. Possesses a random breath test result with a BAC value; has a history of excellent behavior;
  3. Has no traffic offenses or only minor ones;
  4. Has a license that was suspended after the offense was discovered; admitted guilt;
  5. Pose little to no chance of reoffending; the loss of one’s license will cause them great trouble.

The guideline decision then makes a distinction between cases that are more serious or aggravated than a “ordinary offence” by taking into account additional factors related to the offender’s “moral culpability,” such as whether the offender:

  • Had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.15;
  • Was operating a vehicle erratically or aggressively;
  • Caused a collision with any other object;
  • Driving competitively or flaunting oneself;
  • Considering the distance they drove and other variables, they posed a risk to the community; also, their driving put others in danger.

Will My High Range Drunk Driving Offense Get Me Convicted?

A person found guilty of high range drunk driving will nearly always be found guilty. A non-conviction for an ordinary offense of high range drunk driving is rarely justified, according to the guideline opinion. Non-convictions in cases when the offense has a higher degree of moral culpability and/or is a second or subsequent offense are considered to be “extremely rarely appropriate.”

Under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act of 1999, if the court determines that it is not in the best interests of the parties involved to convict the offender, the case may be dropped under Section 10(1)(a) or, under Section 10(1)(b), it may result in a Conditional Release Order without a conviction.

Section 203 of the Road Transport Act of 2013 prohibits an individual from being eligible for a non-conviction order if they have already been granted one for an identical offense within the previous five years.

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