Christmas Drinks

The Christmas holiday period coincides with an increase in fatalities on NSW roads.

In 2016, there has been a staggering 367 lives lost on NSW roads that’s 41 more people having already lost their lives so far in 2016 when compared with the whole of 2015.

Drinking and Driving

With end of year parties, gatherings and celebrations regularly involving alcohol, road users need to be extra vigilant in making appropriate plans for transport.

When people drink and drive it increases the risks of having an accident:

  1. a person with a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 (low-range) doubles the risk of having an accident.
  2. a person with a blood alcohol reading of 0.08 (mid-range) is 7 times more likely to be involved in an accident and
  3. a person with a blood alcohol reading of 0.15 (high-range) is 25 times more likely to be in an accident.

The Penalties for Drink Driving

Drink driving attracts serious penalties. A summary of penalties and disqualification periods for drink driving matters are noted below:

PCA Offence

Fine $

Imprisonment (months)

Disqual. Period (months)

Min. Interlock Period

Low Range $1,100 Nil Automatic – 6 N/A
1st Offence Minimum – 3
Low Range $2,200 Nil Automatic – 3 12 Months
2nd Offence Minimum – 1
Mid Range $2,200 9 Automatic – 12 N/A
1st Offence Minimum – 6
Mid Range $3,300 12 Automatic – 9 24 Months
2nd Offence Minimum – 6
High Range $3,300 18 Automatic – 9 24 Months
1st Offence Minimum – 6
High Range $5,500 24 Automatic – 12 48 Months
2nd Offence Minimum – 9

Morning After Offences

More and more people are being charged with drink driving the day after consuming alcohol. There is no way to speed alcohol exiting your system. A healthy liver breaks down less than one standard drink per hour. If your liver is damaged it takes even longer.

Coffee, showers, water or food will not work. The only thing that will allow someone to sober up is time. After a night of consuming alcohol, a person may still be over the legal alcohol limit for much of the next day.

Examples for P-Plate Licence Holders

For young drivers it can take more than 18 hours for their blood alcohol concentration to get back to zero. The following are examples of how long it may take for alcohol to leave your system:


John is 19 and holds a P2 licence with a zero alcohol limit. If John started drinking at 6pm and had 10 schooners of full strength beer (15 standard drinks) over 6 hours, at midnight his blood alcohol concentration would be 0.17. It would take John more than 11 hours before John’s blood alcohol concentration returned to zero. John would have to wait until almost noon the following day before he could legally drive.


Sue is 18 and holds a P1 licence with a zero alcohol limit. If Sue started drinking at 10pm and had 6 premixed drinks (9 standard drinks) over 4 hours, at 2am her blood alcohol concentration would be 0.24. It would take Sue more than 16 hours before Sue’s blood alcohol concentration returned to zero. Sue would have to wait until 6pm the following day before she could legally drive.

Few people are also aware that if you have three or more serious traffic offences within a five-year period, you will be classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender and you will receive an additional five years’ disqualification added to any disqualification period imposed by the Court.

Drinking and Boating

Driving under the influence of alcohol is an offence when boating. Breath testing, including random breath testing (RBT), can be conducted on the driver of a boat (the skipper) of a vessel while it is underway, including drifting.

Permissible concentration of alcohol limits are as follows:

  1. 0.00 for recreational skippers aged under 18 years (youth range);
  2. Less than 0.05 for recreational skippers over 18 years; and
  3. Less than 0.02 for commercial skippers (special range).

Being detected in excess of the permissible concentration of alcohol by way of a breath test may result in NSW Police issuing a Court Attendance Notice.

Who has to be under the legal alcohol limit?

The operator of a vessel includes anyone steering or exercising control over the course or direction of a vessel. This includes:

  1. The Skipper;
  2. The observer in a ski boat or personal watercraft; and
  3. Any person being towed (i.e. a skier, tuber or wakeboarder).

What if the boat is moored or at anchor?

RBT does not apply when a vessel is moored, berthed or at anchor. However, a designated driver (skipper) should remain under the legal limit when out on the water in case you need to move your boat.

What are the penalties?

Penalties for PCA boating offences are serious and include losing your licence, fines of up to $5,500 and/or two (2) years imprisonment.

Being detected in excess of the permissible concentration of alcohol by way of a breath test may result in immediate suspension of a boat driving licence and/or Police issuing a Court Attendance Notice.

The following table sets out the penalties for each offence:

We urge you to take care on the roads and waterways and to always have an appropriate plan in place if alcohol is going to be consumed.

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