In Queensland if you are caught drink driving you will be provided with a summons to appear in the Magistrates Court closest to where the offence was committed. The penalties will be decided by the Magistrate and will include a fine and disqualification, or a term of imprisonment. The severity of the penalty will depend on your breath or blood alcohol concentration at the time of your offence, your past traffic history, and any previous drink driving convictions. In Queensland there are four alcohol limits that affect the penalty determination. These include the no alcohol limit, the general alcohol limit (0.05 to 0.09), the middle alcohol limit (0.10 to 0.149), and the high alcohol limit (over 0.15). The penalties for drink driving offences are governed by the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.
Immediate licence suspensions
If your BAC is less than 0.10 then the police will issue you with an automatic 24 hour licence suspension. The police also have the power to issue an immediate suspension of your licence that remains in place until your matter is finalised in court. This will apply if you have committed a low range offence while another drink driving matter is still being finalised in the courts, have been charged with mid or high range drink driving, you fail to provide breath or blood sample for analysis, or you are charged with dangerous driving in conjunction with a drink driving offence.
First time drink driving penalties
If you have been caught drink driving, and it is your first offence then the maximum suspension periods range from 9 months to 12 months with fines ranging from $1593.90 to $3187.80. If you are on a learner, probationary or provisional licence then you are on a no alcohol limit. The penalties for breaching the no alcohol limit include a maximum suspension of 9 months, a maximum fine of $15963.90, and a possible term of imprisonment for up to 3 months. Any drivers who are caught with a BAC of over 0.05 but under 0.09 has committed a low range offence, and can expect to receive a maximum suspension of 9 months, a maximum fine of $1593.90, and if warranted the Magistrate may order a term of imprisonment for 3 months. A mid range offence occurs when the BAC level is 0.10 to 0.149. The suspension period for a mid range offence can be a maximum of 12 months, with a maximum fine of $2277.90, and a possible term of imprisonment for up to 6 months. For those whose BAC level is 0.15 or greater, then you have committed a high range offence. The suspensions for a high range offence is at the Magistrates discretion with no legislated maximum period, but will not be less than 6 months. The maximum fine for a high range offence is $3187.80, and a term of imprisonment of 9 months. While terms of imprisonment are rare for first time drink driving offences the Magistrates do have the ability to order a jail sentence if they believe the offence warrants a harsher penalty.
Penalties for repeat drink drivers
Repeat drink driving offenders will face higher penalties than those described above such as a fine up to $6600, and a suspension period up to 2 years. If your BAC is higher than 0.15, or you fail to provide a blood or breath sample your vehicle will also be impounded, and possibly confiscated permanently. You will be considered a repeat offender if you have had a previous drink driving offence in the last 5 years.
Further requirements after suspension period ends
All drink drivers who have had their licence suspended due to a drink driving offence will be required to hold a probationary licence for 12 months. This means you will have a no alcohol limit during this time. You will also be required to have an interlock device fitted to your car for 12 months if your BAC was 0.15 or greater, you failed to provide a breath or blood sample, or you are a repeat drink driver offender. If you decide not to have the interlock fitted you will be required to serve a further 2 year suspension.