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Drink Driving and Penalties in South Australia

If you are convicted of drink driving in South Australia not only may you receive a fine, and disqualification period but also the loss of demerit points.

Depending on how many demerit points you have left on your licence this may result in a further disqualification period due to you using all your points, in addition to any disqualification period imposed by the courts.  You also may be required to undergo an alcohol dependency assessment depending on the number of previous drink driving offences committed. In South Australia there are three drink driving categories which are described as category 1 for a PCA of 0.05 to 0.079, category 2 for a PCA of 0.08 to 0.149, and category 3 for a PCA of 0.15 or higher.

The police may immediately suspend your licence, and impound your vehicle for all category 2 and 3 offences, and category 1 offence if an expiation notice is not issued. If you are a repeat offender, or you PCA was higher than 0.15 for your first offence you will also require to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to your vehicle at the end of your disqualification period. The drink driving offences, and penalties in South Australia are governed by the Road Traffic Act 1961, and in particular section 47B.

Drink Driving Penalties in South Australia

Penalties for first time drink driving offences

If you are charged with a category 1 drink driving offence, and it is you first offence, then you will receive an expiation notice with a fine of $563, and a loss of 4 demerit points. If you choose to elect the matter to go to court, and are not successful the court penalty is $1100 fine and 3 months disqualification. The issuing of expiation notices are defined in the Expiation of Offences Act 1996. If you commit a category 2 drink driving offence then you can expect to receive a loss of 5 demerit points, fine of between $900 to $1300, and a minimum disqualification period of 6 months.  Category 3 drink driving offences will incur the loss of 6 demerit points, a fine of $1100 to $1600, and a minimum of 12 months disqualification.

Penalties for second, third and subsequent drink driving offences

For the purpose of penalty determination by the Magistrate previous drink driving offences will be taken into consideration if you have committed a previous category 1 offence in the last 3 years or a previous category 2 or 3 offence in the last 5 years. For second drink driving category 1 offences the penalty will be a fine of $1100, and a disqualification of 6 months. For third offence the disqualification is increased to 9 months, with it increasing to a minimum of 12 months for subsequent offences.  Category 2 offences will incur a fine of $1100 to $1600, and a 12 months disqualification. Third and subsequent offences will result in a fine of between $1500 to $2200, and a minimum disqualification of 2 years.  For second, third and subsequent category 3 offences the penalties will include a fine ranging from $1600 through to $2900, and a minimum disqualification period of 3 years. In addition to the fine and disqualification period you will also lose between 4 to 6 demerit points depending on your PCA reading.

Penalties for non BAC drink driving offences

Other drink driving offences that do not rely on the PCA reading include driving under the influence (DUI), and refusing to participate in a breath analysis. Both of which will incur a loss of 6 demerit points, a fine of between $1100 to $1600, and a disqualification period of a minimum of 12 months. Subsequent offences will result in a fine of $1900 to $2900, and a disqualification of a minimum of 3 years.  In regard to the fines for a DUI charge the Magistrate may impose a term of imprisonment of not more than 3 months for first offence, and 6 months for subsequent offences instead of the fine.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

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