The usual arrest for a drink driving charge occurs in the following order:

  1. You are pulled over by the police either for a random breath test or because of your manner of driving;
  2. You are breath tested on the roadside;
  3. You are above the legal blood alcohol level for your class of licence;
  4. You are arrested by the police;
  5. You are breath tested again at the police station;
  6. You are charged and given a date to attend your nearest Local Court.

It is a good idea if you have not done so in the past to attend the Traffic Offenders Program prior to your first Court date. Your lawyer will advise you of what program to attend and what subjective material you should bring to Court with you and any medical evidence, if necessary.

At the first or second Court event depending on your circumstances you will be sentenced by a Local Court Magistrate. At the time of sentencing you will receive a penalty, generally involving a period of disqualification. If you had already spent time off the road, your lawyer can make an application for the time you have already spent off the road to count towards the period of disqualification you ultimately receive.

Once you have completed a period of disqualification you will need to attend upon Service NSW (formally known as the RTA) before you drive a car. If you have received a mandatory Interlock period, you will need to attend Service NSW and obtain an Interlock licence and ensure that your vehicle is fitted with an Interlock device and you do not drive any vehicle that is not fitted with an Interlock device. The blood alcohol level on an interlock license is 0.00.

If after 20 May 2019 you are arrested for low range drink driving, you will lose your licence on the spot and receive a fine of $561. You have an option to appeal the licence disqualification by electing to take the matter to the Local Court. It is unclear what the wait times will be at the Local Court at this stage.

The ranges of drink driving in New South Wales are as follows:

  • Special novice range – between 0.00 and 0.02
  • Special range – between 0.02 – 0.05
    These two categories relate to learner drivers or provisional licence holders.
  • Low range – between 0.05 – 0.079
  • Mid range – between 0.08 – 0.149; and
  • High range – from 0.150 onwards.

If you require assistance and representation with a drink driving charge, please contact us.


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