When assessing the penalties associated with drink driving offences, it is important to understand that a person’s ability to drive is not regard as a right or a freedom. To be able to drive, a person must have completed the relevant tests and hours for their licence and then comply with the conditions of that licence. When a person drinks and drives, they may be doing so unlawfully. In instances where there was a crash, damage to property, a person was injured, and/or the person charged has a poor traffic history, imprisonment is a relevant consideration for the court.
While a drink driving offence may seem insignificant, the imposition of significant penalties may indicate otherwise. If you have been charged with a traffic offence, you may be liable to a period of disqualification and monetary fine. In more serious matters, there may be a risk of imprisonment. Depending on the circumstances of the offending, as well as any relevant previous entries, alternative sentencing options may be available.
The penalties for first drink driving offences vary depending on the circumstances of the charge. In assessing the likely penalty in respect of a particular blood alcohol reading, considerations include whether the reading was low or high within that range, the circumstances for which the person was driving, whether there are any aggravating features, and what the person has done to address the underlying causes for the offence prior to sentence. As of December 2021, general penalty range is as follows:
- The nature, condition, and use of the place.
- The nature and condition of the vehicle.
- The number of persons, vehicles or other objects that are, or might reasonably be expected to be, in the place.
- The concentration of alcohol in the operator’s blood.
- The presence of any other substance in the operator’s body.
This expression does not require any state of mind on the part of the driver. This is to say, the person charged, the operator, may believe they are driving carefully, yet are operating the vehicle in a dangerous manner.
The consequences of such an offence are not limited to a disqualification, but a person may be at risk of a criminal conviction and penalty. This for many people can impose a significant risk to their reputation and subsequently, employment and livelihood. If you have been charged with this offence, we are here to listen and provide tailored legal advice and recommendations. To organise a complimentary case assessment with a criminal lawyer, call us on 0401 999 347.