There are a variety of offences related to drink driving and drug driving in NSW. You can be charged after a breath test with being over the prescribed alcohol concentration limit, for driving with drugs in your system, for refusing to provide a breath or blood sample, or for driving while affected by drugs or alcohol. Each offence carries its own penalty and suspension period.
There are no work licences, or restricted licences in NSW so the outcome can have a significant effect on your work, and personal life. In some circumstances you can apply for a section 10 no conviction, which will mean no suspension period will be imposed, but this is very hard to obtain for a drink driving offence.
Penalties and Suspensions for Drink Driving in NSW
The Road Transport Act 2013 outlines the drink driving offences and penalties, including the minimum suspension period required to be ordered by the Magistrate. Drink driving offences that relate to your blood alcohol concentration are divided into Special (0.02), Novice (0.00), Low (0.05 to 0.08), Mid (0.08 to 0.15) and High (0.15 or above) Range PCA. The suspension periods range from 3 months to 3 years for a first offence, and 6 months to 5 years for subsequent offences. Fines can range from $1,100 to $5,500 depending on the offence, and your previous history. Mid range and high range PCA can incur a jail term of between 9 months to 2 years depending on the offence, and your traffic history. Refusing to provide a breath sample is the same penalty as high range PCA, and a suspension of 12 months to 3 years can be imposed for a first offence.
If you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, or drugs, there is a minimum disqualification period of 6 months with a possible jail term of 9 months. If you are found to have illicit drugs in your system while driving then a 3 to 12 months suspension will be imposed, along with a fine ranging from $1,100 to $2,200. Some offences such as mid range and high range PCA will result in an immediate suspension of your licence.
This means that you will not be able to drive between when you are charged and when you are sentenced by the Court.
Drink Driving Courses in NSW
The Police Citizens Youth Clubs hold Traffic Offender Intervention Programs (TOIP) throughout NSW. The program is not only available in Sydney and the western suburbs, but also in country NSW including Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Goulburn, Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Newcastle. A full list of locations is available on the PCYC Traffic Offenders Intervention Program website.
TOIP is an education program to increase your understanding of the factors associated with drink driving, drug driving, and dangerous driving. The benefit of completing the program is that it allows the Magistrate to impose a lessor penalty, as it is seen as a credible sentencing, or rehabilitative option. The program consists of 9 components which require you to attend the course over 7 sessions.
There are also assessment tasks that need to be completed each week. The topics cover factors involved in road crashes, the effects of alcohol and drugs on driving, the consequences of a crash, victims of road trauma, and the legal system.
Interlock Program NSW
NSW has followed the lead of most other states in making participation in the interlock program mandatory for certain offences rather than requiring that you complete your full suspension period.
This program requires that you have a breath testing device fitted to your vehicle so that it operates only once you have blown a zero BAC. You will be responsible for all the costs associated with having the interlock device fitted. You will also have to get reports done throughout the time to show that it hasn’t come back with a negative reading and that is working correctly.
To participate in the interlock program you will also have to undertake the drink-less program no later than 28 days from the end of your disqualification period. This is a survey conducted by your doctor about alcohol use. You will receive a certificate from you Doctor which needs to be presented to the RTA before they will issue you with an interlock licence.
Refusal to participate will result in a 5 year driving suspension period. There are serious consequences for breach of an interlock order.