On 2 June 2016 we reported on charges laid against Queensland Member of Parliament Billy Gordon relating to drink driving and unlicensed driving.
Mr Gordon was driving from Kuranda to Cairns when he was pulled over for a random breath test. He reportedly recorded a blood alcohol content reading of 0.094 – almost twice the accepted limit for full or open licence holders. However, Mr Gordon, who has only ever held a learner’s permit (which reportedly expired back in 2009), was also driving unlicensed at the time.
For drink driving offences in Queensland, where a driver records a BAC of more than 0.05 but less than 0.10, their licence is immediately suspended for a 24 hour period although police retain a discretion to extend the suspension to the date the matter is brought before court.
If it is the first time the driver has been charged with a drink driving offence, they face a licence suspension of up to 9 months and a fine of about $1,600 or a term of imprisonment for 3 months. If it was a second or subsequent offence, the possible penalty rises to a $7,000 fine and a licence suspension for 2 years.
A charge for the offence of driving unlicensed can mean the driver is precluded from getting behind the wheel for up to 6 months, has to pay a fine of around $4,600, and could even face a year in prison.
It seems, though, that Mr Gordon has been very fortunate on this occasion, especially since he had also been caught driving unlicensed in 2011. He fronted Magistrate Noel Nunan in the Brisbane Magistrates Court where he entered a plea of guilty. In sentencing submissions, Mr Gordon’s lawyer argued that, although Mr Gordon conceded he had been drink driving, it was on a relatively unpopulated stretch of road. He added that Mr Gordon would have to give up his seat in Parliament if he were to be jailed for a year or more, and that a conviction should not be recorded so that Mr Gordon could travel to Canada.
The Court seems to have obliged, noting that the MP had already experienced a ‘degree of public shaming’. Magistrate Nunan handed Mr Gordon a fine of $750, and a licence disqualification for a period of 4 months. No conviction was recorded, though he no doubt faces further questions as to how he has been travelling around his 196,000 square kilometre electorate.