Important Information About Drink Driving and Boating Over the Holiday Season
The Christmas holiday period coincides with an increase in fatalities on NSW roads.
There have been 302 lives lost and 12,195 people seriously injured on NSW roads, in the last 12 months. There have been a sobering 1,237 road deaths in 2017 across Australia.
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 alternate plans after consuming alcohol.
From 23 December 2016 to 3 January 2017, 40 people lost their lives. This was an increase from 34 for the same period the year prior.
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.
Drink driving attracts serious penalties. A summary of penalties and disqualification periods for drink driving matters are below:
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.
Examples for P-Plate Licence Holders
For young drivers, it can take more than 18 hours for their blood alcohol concentration to return to zero. The following are examples of how long it may take for alcohol to leave a younger driver’s 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.
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 (youth range);
- Less than 0.05 for recreational skippers over 18 years; and
- Less than 0.02 for commercial skippers (special range).
Being detected to have 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 licence, fines of up to $5,500 and/or two (2) years imprisonment.
Being detected to have 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 penalties for each offence:
Turnbull Hill Lawyers wish everyone a safe and enjoyable 2017/2018 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.
We’re open every day during the Christmas and New Year period (excluding public holidays).
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