In the Northern Territory drink driving offences can be dealt with by way of traffic infringement or court summons. If you are issued a traffic infringement it will be for a low range offence, and no suspension period will apply. All other drink driving matters need to be heard before the court for a Magistrate to determine a suitable penalty which will include a fine, disqualification period, and in some circumstances a term of imprisonment.
The fines are portrayed as penalty units. Currently a penalty unit is worth $149, but increases in line with CPI each financial year. The Northern Territory is very strict on repeat offenders and mandatory disqualification periods are defined in legislation with an additional suspension period to be served, or an alcohol interlock fitted to your vehicle at the end of the mandatory period.
For most drink driving offences you will also need to participate in a drink driving program prior to you being able to obtain your licence back at the end of your disqualification period. There are three categories that a person’s blood alcohol content will fall within when tested, and the penalty you are likely to receive will depend on the category relevant to your BAC reading. These are low range 0.05 to 0.079, medium range 0.08 to 0.149, and high range 0.15 and higher. Some drivers must have a zero BAC level which includes anyone under the age of 18, anyone under 25 who have not held a licence for 3 years, anyone who does not hold a licence, a holder of a learners or provisional licence, or the driver of a heavy vehicle or passenger vehicle.
Some drink driving charges will also result in an immediate licence suspension. All drink driving offences in the Northern Territory are governed by the Traffic Act.
Penalties for first time drink driving offences in NT
If you are required to have a zero BAC, and you are convicted of drink driving with a BAC greater than zero but less than 0.05 you will receive a fine of 5 penalty units, and be disqualified from driving for 3 months. If you are charged with low range drink driving, and it is your first offence, you will receive a traffic infringement which will incur a fine of 5 penalty units only. Medium range drink driving will result in a fine of 7.5 penalty units, and a disqualification period of 6 months. High range drink driving offences will incur a fine of 10 penalty units, and a disqualification period of 12 months. All fines can be converted into a term of imprisonment of between 3 to 12 months depending on your BAC reading.
Penalties for further drink driving offences in NT
The penalties are lot more severe for those who have committed a previous drink driving offence, and may also result in an alcohol interlock device having to be fitted to your car. Zero alcohol drivers who have a BAC of less than 0.05 will incur a fine of 7.5 units, and a disqualification period of 6 months. You will then be required to serve a further period of disqualification ranging from 6 months to 3 years. Low range offences will incur a fine of either 5 or 7.5 penalty units, and a 3 month disqualification for your second offence, and a 6 month disqualification for subsequent offences. Medium range offences will incur a fine of 20 penalty units, and mandatory disqualification of 12 months.
The court will also order a further disqualification period of between 12months to 3 years. High range drink driving offences will incur a fine of 20 penalty units, and a mandatory disqualification period of 18 months. The court will also order a further disqualification period of between 12 months to 3 years. However, if you have had in the last 3 years another high range offence, medium range offence, refusing to provide a breath/blood sample or driving under the influence charge your licence will be disqualified for a minimum of 5 years. In regard to the further disqualification period after the mandatory times is served, if you agree to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to your car you can hold an Alcohol Interlock Licence during this period allowing you to drive.
If you are disqualified for the 5 years mentioned above you cannot serve any of this with an AIL licence. The Magistrate also has the ability to order a term of imprisonment of 12 months.
Penalties for non BAC offences in NT
Drink driving offences which do not rely on a BAC reading include driving under the influence, and failing to provide a breath analysis. Penalties for driving under the influence include a fine of 10 penalty units, and a disqualification period of 6 months. Subsequent offences will incur a fine of 20 penalty units, and a disqualification period of 12 months. Penalties for failing to provide a breath sample for first offences will include a fine of 10 penalty units, and a disqualification of 12 months. Subsequent offences will incur a fine of 20 penalty units, and a mandatory disqualification of 18 months.
Both offences will also incur a further disqualification for subsequent offences of 12 months to 3 years in which an AIL licence can be obtained during this time.