What are the Drink Driving Penalties in NSW?

When it comes to drink driving accidents in New South Wales (NSW), the headlines tell the story. Back in November, police arrested a 29-year-old motorist who allegedly crashed into a police car in Sydney. According to published reports, the driver was highly intoxicated when the crash occurred. A 28-year-old motorist was also arrested in connection with a drink-driving accident back in October. In that case, a child was badly injured after the car her mother was driving ran off an embankment on Armidale Road south of Grafton.
Even when no one is hurt or killed, there are serious consequences of drink driving. Read on to learn about drink driving penalties in New South Wales.

Recent changes to NSW’s drink driving penalties

To start, let’s review some recent changes that took effect last year. For one thing, any motorist now caught drink driving faces immediate suspension of their licence. There are no exceptions, even for the first time, low range offence. Motorists also face immediate fines in certain circumstances. Police may now issue fines instead of a summons if the driver has no prior offences and the BAC reading is below 0.079.

Classification of drink driving offences

As set forth in the Road Transport Act 2013, there are five classifications for drink driving offences in NSW. Based on BAC readings, these are:
  • Novice range (0.00 to 0.019 for a Learner, P1 or P2 driver)
  • Special range (0.02 to 0.049 for a Learner, P1 or P2 driver or a bus or taxi driver)
  • Low range (0.05 to 0.079)
  • Mid-range (0.08 to 0.149)
  • High range (0.15 and higher)
Each one carries different maximum penalties and maximum and minimum licence suspension periods. A more detailed explanation follows.

Novice, low range or special range

Someone convicted of novice range, special range, or low range drink driving faces the suspension of his or her licence for three months. He or she also faces an immediate fine of $561.
If the motorist has prior convictions, he or she must go to court. There, they face punishments including a fine of up to $3300 and loss of driving privileges for up to six months.

Mid-range drink driving

If you are convicted of this offence for the first time, you face a maximum fine of $2,200. If it is your second or a subsequent offence, you face a maximum fine of $3,300. You may also be sentenced to up to nine months imprisonment for a first offence. The maximum term of imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence is 12 months.
But that’s not all. If it is your first offence your licence may be suspended immediately and you may lose your driving privileges for up to nine months. If it is your second or subsequent offence, you also face immediate suspension of your licence and loss of driving privileges for up to 12 months.

High range drink driving penalties

Finally, if you are convicted of high range drink driving, you face the following punishments:
  • Fines of $3,3,00 for a first offence and up to $5,500 for a second or subsequent offence
  • Imprisonment for up to 18 months for a first offence and up to two years for a second or subsequent offence
  • Immediate suspension of your licence
  • Loss of driving privileges for up to 12 months for a first offence
  • Loss of driving privileges for up to two years for a second or subsequent offence

Additional offences

The punishments for conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol or another drug are as follows:
  • A $3,030 fine and/or 18 months imprisonment for a first offence
  • A $5,050 fine and/or two years imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence
The punishments for conviction of driving with an illicit drug present in their oral fluid are as follows:
  • A $2, 020 fine for a first offence and a $3,030fine for a second or subsequent offence.
Consumption of the drug for a medicinal purpose is a defence to this charge.
Clearly being charged with any drink driving offence in New South Wales is a serious matter. If this has happened to you, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you fight your drink driving charge, today.