Victoria has some of the strictest drink driving penalties and procedures in Australia, and can include a requirement to have an ‘alcohol interlock device’ fitted to your car for up to 4 years. As not only the initial cost, but the ongoing costs of maintenance, and testing, of the alcohol interlock device is your responsibility it can be quite expensive to maintain for such a long period of time. These penalties will also apply if the offending was in another State.
If it is your first offence, and your BAC was under 0.15 you will be provided with a traffic infringement notice (TIN) which will have an automatic suspension by the police, and you will not have to attend court. These penalties will range from 6 months to 14 months depending on your blood alcohol reading.
If it is a subsequent offence, you will need to attend court, and you will be disqualified from driving by a Magistrate. The fines that may you may receive vary but may be up to at least 20 penalty units if it is the driver’s first offence. This amount is increased yearly at 1 July in line with inflation.
There are also mandatory alcohol device requirements for most drink driver offences even if it is your first offence. If you do receive a traffic infringement notice with an automatic disqualification you can elect for your matter to be heard in court. The Magistrate may then impose a difference disqualification period; however, the Magistrate’s decision is still required to be higher than the minimum for that offence as outlined in the legislation.
The drink driving legislation in Victoria is governed by the Road Safety Act 1986 (VIC).
Penalties for first time drink driving offences in which a TIN is issued
In Victoria if you are on a learners permit, or probationary licence, you BAC must be zero. If you are caught drink driving with a reading of 0.01 to 0.049 you will receive a fine, and be automatically disqualified from driving for a period of 3 months. You will also be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted for a minimum period of 6 months.
If you have a full licence, but because of your age (under 26), the type of vehicle you drive, or work you perform you are meant to have a zero alcohol reading, and you are caught with a BAC greater than zero but less than 0.05, you will receive a fine and loss of 10 demerit points. The loss of 10 demerit points will cause you to lose your licence for 3 months.
If your BAC was 0.05 to 0.069 and are a learner or probationary licence holder, or you have a full licence but required to have a zero reading then you will receive a fine, be disqualified for driving for 6 months, and be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted at the end of your disqualification for a minimum of 6 months.
Full licence holders over the age of 26 are required to have a BAC below .05. If you are caught drink driving with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.069 you will receive a fine and 10 demerit points. All drivers who have a BAC of 0.07 but less than 0.10 you will receive a fine, be disqualified from driving for 6 months, and be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to your vehicle for a minimum of 6 months.
Any driver who has a BAC of 0.10 but less than 0.15 will receive a fine, be disqualified from driving for between 10-14 months (the police will decide as to the length at the time of the offence depending on where on the scale between 0.10 and 0.15 your BAC level falls), and have an alcohol interlock device for a minimum of 6 months.
Penalties for first time drink driving offences in which a summons is issued
If your BAC reading was 0.15 or higher you will have your licence cancelled immediately, and you will be required to attend court. The Magistrate will then impose a penalty which will include a fine, a disqualification period greater than 15 months, and you will be required to have an alcohol interlock device installed in your vehicle for a minimum period of 6 months. Other non BAC drink driving offences will also require you to attend court. These include:
- driving under the influence
- refusing to provide a breath sample
- refusing to stop at a breath testing station
- manslaughter involving the use of a motor vehicle where alcohol was a factor
- negligently causing serious injury while using a motor vehicle where alcohol was a factor
- negligent driving involving a police pursuit, and
- stealing a vehicle.
The penalties for these offences vary depending on the severity of the offence, but will include a fine, a licence disqualification determined by the Magistrate, and the requirement to have an alcohol interlock installed at the end of your disqualification period.
Penalties for further drink driving offences
If you have previously been convicted of drink driving in Victoria, and you are charged with a further drink driving offence you will not receive a TIN, but will be required to attend at the Magistrates Court. The penalties that will be imposed by the Magistrate will depend on whether your latest BAC was above or below 0.15.
If your BAC was below 0.15 then you will receive a fine, be disqualified from driving for a period at the Magistrate’s discretion, and be required to have an alcohol interlock device installed. If your BAC was 0.15 or higher you will be fined, be disqualified from driving for at least 30 months, and have an alcohol interlock device fitted to your vehicle for a period of 4 years. If it is your 3rd or more BAC offence then no matter what your BAC reading was for the latest offence you will be required to have an alcohol interlock device for a minimum period of 4 years.