Drink Driving

It is an offence to drive under the influence of alcohol.

Most people who are charged with drink driving offences end up pleading guilty. It is very difficult to successfully defend a drink driving charge, but it is not impossible. If you are thinking about pleading not guilty you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

If you plead guilty the Magistrate will impose a sentence that is comprised of two parts –

  • The penalty – usually a fine or a community based order
  • The disqualification – a period of time during which you will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a drivers licence in Queensland.

The penalty you get and the length of your disqualification will depend on a number of factors, including –

  • Your blood alcohol concentration
  • Your criminal and traffic history, in particular whether you have previously been convicted of drink driving
  • The circumstances of your charge, for example whether you were charged following a random breath test or if the police stopped you for a reason to do with the manner of your driving
  • Your personal history and character
  • The impact of the loss of your licence
  • Any rehabilitation or driver education courses you have completed

Jasper Fogerty Lawyers will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the sentence that will be imposed prior to your court date.

The law sets out the following mandatory minimum disqualification periods for drink driving offences depending on the reading and any history of previous drink driving offences within the last 5 years.

1. Over the no alcohol limit but under the general alcohol limit – 0.00 to 0.49

* Relevant to learner drivers, probationary and provisional licence holders, people on the alcohol interlock program

Maximum penalty
For first time offenders – 20 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment
Increasing to 30 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – 3 to 9 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – 3 to 18 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months

2. Over the general alcohol limit but under the middle alcohol limit – 0.05 to 0.09

Maximum penalty
For first time offenders – 14 penalty units or 3 months imprisonment
Increasing to 30 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – 1 to 9 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – 3 to 18 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months

3. Over the middle alcohol limit but under the high alcohol limit – 0.10 to 0.149

Maximum penalty
For first time offenders – 20 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment
Increasing to 30 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – 3 to 12 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – 3 to 18 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months

4. Over the high alcohol limit – 0.15 or higher

Maximum penalty
For first time offenders – 28 penalty units or 9 months imprisonment
Increasing to 60 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 24 months

Are people really sent to jail for drink driving offences?

Yes. The law actually states that if a person is convicted of a third high range drink driving offences in within 5 years then the penalty MUST include a term of imprisonment.

Will I have to have an acohol interlock device installed?

Alcohol ignition interlocks are wired into a car’s ignition, starter and electrical systems. The driver blows into the device and the car will not start if any alcohol is detected.

Modern interlocks are very sophisticated. They are designed to be difficult to tamper with or circumvent.

Interlocks can be installed on most vehicles that have an ignition including cars, trucks and motorcycles.

The interlock program will apply to you in the following circumstances –

  • If you are convicted of a drink driving offence with a reading of 0.15 or higher
  • If you are convicted of failing to supply a breath specimen
  • If you are convicted of dangerous driving while affected by alcohol
  • If you are convicted of two drink driving offences (whatever the reading) within a 5 year period, if both offences were after 6 August 2010

You can find more information about interlock devices at the Queensland Transport website.