This information is provided as a guide only, and is not a substitute for legal advice.
1. I've been charged with drink driving. Am I going to lose my licence?
In Queensland, there are mandatory driver licence disqualifications for drink and drug driving offences.
The period for which your driver licence is disqualified will depend on your level of intoxication (or Breath Alcohol Concentration) but is generally anywhere between one month to two years.
In addition to disqualification, the court will also impose a penalty. The level of penalty will depend on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the charge and your traffic history. The penalty may range from a fine up to and including sentences of imprisonment.
The mandatory minimum driver licence disqualifications apply even if you need your driver licence for work or family reasons. In certain circumstances you may be able to apply for a Work Licence (see 'What if I need my licence for work?' below).
2. Would I get a conviction recorded for a first offence?
Drink and drug driving charges are traffic offences, which means that your conviction for the offence will appear on your traffic history with Queensland Transport.
Certain occupations, such as professional drivers and legal, medical and other professions, require disclosure of all convictions, even those on your traffic history.
It is possible in certain circumstances to receive "no conviction recorded" for a traffic offence.
3. What if it isn't my first offence?
If you have been convicted of a drink or drug driving offence in the last five years, and you have been charged with another similar offence, then you will receive a higher penalty and period of driver licence disqualification.
In addition, you will not be eligible for a work licence and will have to install an Alcohol Interlock Device in your car after the disqualification period has expired.
Sentences of imprisonment (including actual jail time) may be imposed in certain cases of repeat offending. We strongly recommend seeking legal advice if this is not your first offence.
4. What if I need my licence for work?
If you are charged with a low or mid-range drink driving offence you may be eligible to apply for a Restricted Work Licence. This allows you to drive for work purposes only.
You may also apply for a restricted work licence if you have been charged with driving with a relevant drug present or failing to provide a sample of breath at the roadside.
In order to apply for a restricted work licence, you must meet strict eligibility criteria, which you can read about here.
If you are thinking of applying for a work licence, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice.
5. Do I need a criminal lawyer for a drink driving charge?
In our experience, people often achieve a better outcome when they are legally represented (or have at least obtained legal advice).
There are some situations where getting the best outcome may be particularly important.
People are often surprised to learn that a traffic conviction can affect their career prospects. If you work for the government or are in a professional occupation, you may be required to disclose a conviction to your employer or other professional bodies. If that may apply to you, getting early legal advice is crucial.
We also strongly recommend that you seek legal advice if you need a driver licence for work or family reasons or if you are at risk of imprisonment for repeat traffic offences. Early intervention and legal advice can hugely affect the outcome.
It is also important to note that drink driving convictions can have significant implications for overseas.
Going to court can be an extremely stressful experience, especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. Having an experienced advocate by your side can provide reassurance and peace of mind. It is ultimately a personal decision whether to obtain legal representation.
6. What does it cost to hire a criminal lawyer?
The cost will vary depending on your needs.
For traffic offences, Jasper Fogerty Lawyers offer the certainty of an affordable fixed-fee rate.
We also offer free initial telephone advice and case assessment, which may help you make a decision about whether you need legal representation. You can contact us 24/7.
7. Aren't there free lawyers at the court?
Legal Aid Duty Lawyers are not able to provide legal assistance or representation on traffic matters unless you are at risk of going to jail.
We hope you have found this information useful.
Jasper Fogerty Lawyers are accredited specialists in criminal law, with extensive experience in all areas including traffic crime. We are available 24/7 for legal advice and representation.