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

With end of year parties, gatherings and celebrations regularly involving alcohol, road users must be extra vigilant in making appropriate plans for transport and always have alternative plans after consuming alcohol.

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

  • a person with a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 (low range) doubles the risk of having an accident;
  • a person with a blood alcohol reading of 0.08 (mid range) is 7 times more likely to be involved in an accident; and
  • 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 PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol)

  • Low range PCA: blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to less than 0.08
  • Novice range PCA: blood alcohol concentration more than zero for learner, P1 or P2 drivers
  • Special range PCA: blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 to 0.05 for special category drivers
  • Mid range PCA: blood alcohol concentration 0.08 to 0.15
  • High range PCA: blood alcohol concentration 0.150 or greater
Low, Novice or Special Range1st offence2nd + offence
Infringement Notice$561N/A
Maximum fine$2,200$3,300
Maximum imprisonmentNANA
Automatic disqualification period6 months12 months
Minimum disqualification (no interlock)3 months6 months
Maximum disqualification (with interlock)NA3 months
Minimum interlock periodNA12 months
Mid Range1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum fine$2,200$3,300
Maximum imprisonment9 months12 months
Automatic disqualification period (no interlock)12 months36 months
Minimum disqualification (no interlock)6 months12 months
Maximum disqualification (with interlock)6 months9 months
Minimum interlock period (with interlock)3 months6 months
Minimum interlock period12 months24 months
High Range1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum fine$3,300$5,500
Maximum imprisonment18 months24 months
Automatic disqualification period (no interlock)36 months60 months
Minimum disqualification (no interlock)12 months24 months
Maximum disqualification (with interlock)9 months12 months
Minimum interlock period (with interlock)6 months9 months
Minimum interlock period24 months48 months

The difference between a PCA offence and a DUI offence

A PCA charge is laid when a police breath test (or blood test) proves that you have a prescribed concentration of alcohol in your system whilst driving. The breath test (or blood test) will measure the amount of alcohol in your blood and you will be charged depending on the concentration level. In contrast, a DUI charge occurs when obtaining an accurate blood and alcohol reading is not possible. When assessing a DUI charge, police often take into consideration a driver’s behaviour as the primary form of evidence.

If you have any questions relating to the above, or required the assistance of our expert team of Criminal Lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us.

DUI (Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs)1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum fine$3,300$5,500
Maximum imprisonment18 months24 months
Automatic disqualification period36 months60 months
Minimum disqualification12 months24 months
Immediate licence suspensionYes if under influence of alcoholYes if under influence of alcohol

Morning after offences

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

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

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) while it is underway (including drifting).

Permissible concentration of alcohol limits are as follows:

0.00 for recreational skippers aged under 18 years (novice range)

Less than 0.05 for recreational skippers over 18 years; and

Less than 0.02 for commercial skippers (special range).

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

Who must 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:

  • The skipper
  • The observer in a ski boat or personal watercraft; and
  • 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 they need to move the boat.

What are the penalties?

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

Being detected more than 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:

Novice Range PCA1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum Fine$1,100$2,200
Disqualification3 months12 months
Maximum Gaol SentenceNANA
Special Range PCA1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum Fine$1,100$2,200
Disqualification3 months12 months
Maximum Gaol SentenceNANA
Low Range PCA1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum Fine$1,100$2,200
Disqualification3 months6 months
Maximum Gaol SentenceNANA
Mid Range PCA1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum Fine$1,100$2,200
Disqualification6 months12 months
Maximum Gaol Sentence6 months12 months
High Range PCA1st offence2nd + offence
Maximum Fine$3,300$5,500
Disqualification12 months24 months
Maximum Gaol Sentence18 months24 months

Turnbull Hill Lawyers wish everyone a safe and enjoyable 2020/2021 holiday period.  We urge you to take care on the roads and waterways and to always have an appropriate plan in place if alcohol is being consumed.

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