New Penalties for Drink Driving

Posted by Justin Wong on 30 November 2018

Beginning on Monday 3 December 2018, a number of significant changes to drink driving and traffic laws will commence. The most significant of these are Penalty Notices for Low-Range PCA, and increased penalties and interlock order disqualifications for first offence Mid-Range PCA charges.

Low-Range/Novice/Special Range PCA

Commencing 20 May 2019 it will be an option for police to issue a penalty notice for these offences rather than a mandatory court summons. This is only if the person hasn’t been issued a penalty notice of convicted of a similar offence in the previous 5 years. This also applies to driving with a drug present in system.

The maximum penalties for these offences also increase to a fine of $2,200 from the previous $1,100.

Mid-Range PCA

The maximum penalty will increase from a fine of $2,200 to $3,300. The maximum period of imprisonment of 9 months will remain.

Significantly, as of 3 December 2018 a first offence Mid-Range offence will now be subject to the mandatory interlock order regime. This means if you are convicted of the offence, even for the first time, you will be disqualified for 3 or 6 months, and then ordered to go on to an interlock licence for at least 12 months. The court has a discretion to exempt you from the interlock order.

The penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or any other Drug (section 112 Road Transport Act 2013) also change. A first offence will now be the subject of the mandatory interlock order regime, being disqualification for 6 or 9 months, and then an interlock order for at least 24 months. The period for a second offence has also increased.

Other changes include:

  1. A new wider definition of “drug” that now includes any substance that is taken and likely to deprive or impair a person’s normal mental or physical faculties. Previously the substance had to be prohibited or specifically prescribed by the regulations.
  2. Removing the requirement that a person has previously been convicted of an earlier offence when determining if the new offence is a second or subsequent offence. All that is required now is that the person has “committed” and offence. This would include previous offences for which no conviction was recorded.
  3. As of 3 December 2018 expanding the circumstances in which the court can make an interlock exemption order, to include:
    1. If the offence is a first offence Mid-Range PCA;
    2. That the order would cause severe hardship; or
    3. If the making of the exemption order is more appropriate in all the circumstances.
  4. As of 20 May 2019 the availability of immediate police licence suspensions for first offence Low-Range PCA charges (previously only available for Mid-Range or High Range).

The changes in the laws make an already complicated regime more complex. If you require assistance with your charges, please contact us.