Low Range Drink Driving Offences in NSW

The standard blood alcohol limit for most drivers in NSW is 0.05. What is the offence of Low Range Drink Driving and what are the potential penalties?

Low Range Drink Driving in NSW

The offence of Low Range PCA offences applies to drivers who return a breath or blood alcohol reading of 0.05 or above, up to a reading of 0.079.

What are the penalties for Low Range Drink Driving in NSW?

The maximum penalty for an offence of Low Range PCA upon conviction is a fine of $2,200.00 and an automatic licence disqualification of 6 months, which can be reduced to a minimum period of 3 months for an offence categorised as a first offence within a 5 year period. In the case of offences deemed to be second or subsequent offences, the maximum penalty is a fine of $3,300.00 and an automatic period of disqualification of 12 months, which can be reduced to a period of 6 months in the event of an interlock exemption order being made. In the case of a second or subsequent offence, the mandatory interlock provisions apply resulting in a mandatory interlock licence period being imposed of 12 months, with a minimum licence disqualification period of 1 month and a maximum licence disqualification of 3 months.

Do I have to go to Court? Penalty Notices for Low Range PCA Offences

Instead of issuing a driver with a Court Attendance Notice for an offence of Drive with Low Range PCA, the Police are now able to issue on the spot fines in the case of offences deemed as a first offence within a 5 year period. Should this occur, the Police will also issue a driver with an immediate licence suspension for a period of 3 months. Should the Police issue a driver with a Court Attendance Notice, the potential penalties to be imposed will be determined by a court.

Will I Get a Criminal Record if I pay a Penalty Notice for a Low Range PCA?

In the event of a penalty notice being issued for an offence of Low Range PCA, the charge is dealt with by way of a fine and an immediate suspension and therefore does not go to court. Consequently, whilst the offence will appear on a driver’s traffic record, it will not appear on their criminal record. In cases where a driver is issued with a Court Attendance Notice, or the offence itself otherwise dealt with by a court, the offence of Low Range PCA will appear on both a driver’s traffic as well as criminal records.

Can I Appeal or Contest a Penalty Notice and Police Suspension for a Low Range PCA Offence?

The best approach to be undertaken after receiving a Penalty Notice and Police Suspension for a Low Range PCA offence can often be a tricky decision. Paying the penalty notice and losing your licence for a period of 3 months is not an attractive option for many drivers, especially those who are heavily reliant on their licence for work and other purposes.

Some drivers may opt to pay the fine and seek to appeal the suspension period, seeking that it be reduced or quashed entirely by a court. This is not as easy as it sounds. Section 268(5) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) states that the court is not to vary or set aside the decision by the Police to suspend a driver’s licence unless it is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances justifying a lifting or variation of the suspension. Moreover, the circumstances of the offence are not to be taken into account when determining any such appeal. Due to this high bar, many appeals are ultimately unsuccessful.

Deciding to not pay the penalty notice and instead electing to take a charge of Low Range PCA can also be problematic. Deciding to complete a court election will not, of itself set aside or stop an immediate licence suspension from continuing unless an appeal is successfully pursued. Sometimes, delays of several weeks can occur between the time a driver elects to take an offence of Low Range PCA to court and their actual court date. A driver’s licence will remain suspended in the interim.

Some defendants may seek to enter pleas of guilty and seek the court’s leniency to dismiss a charge of Drive with Low Range PCA without a conviction being recorded, resulting in no fine or loss of licence being applicable. This however is a risky approach as a court may not extend such leniency and instead impose a fine greater than the original penalty notice as well as a longer disqualification period than the 3 month suspension at first instance. Additional costs such as court costs and levies will also apply. Finally, a decision to elect to take a charge of Low Range PCA to court will inevitably result in this offence appearing on a driver’s criminal as well as traffic records.

Why Choose Australian Lawyers and Advocates?

Drink driving matters are serious offences. It is important that the circumstances and evidence of each case be carefully examined by an experienced criminal defence lawyer. It is therefore important that you consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible after you have been charged with an offence. Many law firms claim to be ‘the best’ or ‘leading’ firms. At Australian Lawyers and Advocates, we let our results, reputation and high level of client service and satisfaction speak for themselves. Our team of lawyers are highly experienced, highly skilled and respected advocates.

The content contained within this guide is expressed as a general guide as to this area of law and is not intended to contain legal advice specific to an individual’s case. If you, or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence and requires legal advice, do not hesitate to contact Australian Lawyers and Advocates to discuss any criminal law or traffic law matters further.


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