Drink driving offences in Western Australia carry a variety of penalties, most of which will result in your licence being suspended.
If you’re breath tested, the legal BAC limit in Western Australia is 0.05, but it does differ for some licence holders. The legal limit is zero:
- for novice drivers who have less than two years’ experience
- if you have been recently disqualified
- if you are a holder of an extraordinary licence
- if you drive a taxi, bus, vehicle carrying dangerous goods, or
- if you drive a vehicle over 22.2t.
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your body. A measurement of 0.05 BAC means that your body contains 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. After you stop drinking your BAC can continue to rise for a further 30 to 60 minutes.
The drink driving laws in Western Australia are governed by the Road Traffic Act 1974, and in particular sections 63 to 64AAA.
For first time DUI offenders with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.079 the penalty is a fine, and loss of between 3 to 5 demerit points. If it is your second or subsequent offence, then you will receive a licence suspension of between 6 to 10 months. You will also receive a fine ranging from $500 to $1000 depending on your reading.
For BAC levels of 0.08 and over the penalties significantly increase, especially if it is your second or third offence. The suspension periods can range from 6 months to a life ban. With fines ranging from $500 through to $5000, depending on your reading, and if it is your first, second or third offence. If it is your second offence, and the reading was over 0.0149 then you may also be facing 9 months imprisonment; or 18 months imprisonment if it is your third DUI.
If you are required to have a zero alcohol limit, and your reading is less than 0.02 you will receive a fine and 3 demerit points. If the reading is between 0.02 and 0.049 then you will receive a 3 months disqualification.
Western Australia has also taken a firm stance against Drug Driving with tough penalties being imposed. Section 64AB of the Road Traffic Act 1974, states that for a first offence conviction of driving while impaired by drugs you will be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 10 months.
If it is your second offence you will lose your licence for 30 months, and may receive 9 months imprisonment. For a third, or subsequent offence, you will be facing a life ban from driving, and could face 18 months imprisonment.
The penalties are not as extreme for driving with drugs in your system, as long as you were not impaired by them. These can range from a fine to 6 months suspension.
Having your licence suspended because of drink driving can have long lasting ramifications to you personally, and financially. If you are going to lose your job because you cannot drive then Western Australia does have the option for you to apply for an Extraordinary Licence.
There are waiting periods that apply before you can make an application. These differ depending on your BAC reading, and your previous drink driving history, though in every situation you will be without your licence for at least 21 days. For driving under the influence with a BAC in excess of 0.08 but below 0.15 you will need to wait between 1 to 3 months. For DUI offences above .015 you will need to wait between 2 and 4 months. It can then take a further 14 days after filing your application for your matter to be heard.
Extraordinary Licences are not an automatic right, and you need to able to show to the court the hardship it will cause to you, and your family if you are unable to drive. You will also have to show that you are a fit and proper person, and addressed any alcohol issues that may have contributed to the offence.
If you are granted with an extraordinary licence you will have strict conditions imposed outlining when, and where, you can drive. Driving outside these conditions will result in you being charged, and your Extraordinary Licence being cancelled.
From October 2016, driver’s who commit serious or frequent drink driving offences will be ordered by the courts to participate in the interlock program in WA.
This program requires that the driver install a breath testing device to their vehicle. A breath sample which indicates a BAC in excess of the prescribed level will mean the vehicle cannot be started.
Being ordered onto the program will incur significant costs to the driver.