Everything You Need to Know About Drink-Driving Charges
Alcohol consumption has been around longer than moving about on horseback and is commonplace in many parts of the world. Before driving in potentially lethal motor vehicles, the worst offence was being drunk and disorderly in a public place. It soon became clear that when driving on busy highways, alcohol consumption must be curbed and laws were passed to set out clear limits on how much alcohol should be consumed before getting behind the wheel of a car. However, if you find yourself needing help from drink driving lawyers in Sydney or wherever you are based because you have been arrested for driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, you should look online to find a good lawyer.
The most accurate method to measure alcohol levels is a blood sample. Breathalysers may determine whether a blood test is needed but measurements from them are too crude to establish guilt. The sample will be used to look for the proportion of alcohol in the blood, measured as grams of alcohol per 100ml.
As an example of typical illegal blood-alcohol proportions, New South Wales in Australia came up with the following table of ranges:
- Novice 0.001-0.019g alcohol per 100ml
- Special 0.02-0.049g alcohol per 100ml
- Low 0.05-0.079g alcohol per 100ml
- Mid 0.08-0.149g alcohol per 100ml
- High 0.150g alcohol per 100ml or higher
Penalties imposed by courts
Given the direct correlation between dangerous driving and alcohol, courts take a dim view of drink-driving. This offence is complicated by the fact that different people may drink different amounts of alcohol at different times with widely varying blood-alcohol outcomes. A 60kg woman drinking at lunchtime without eating will on average pass the above limits much sooner than a 90kg man drinking with a meal in the evening. Nonetheless, the blood-alcohol limits apply equally, as do the penalties which are:
- Automatic ban from driving
- Fine depending on whether this is a first offence and the precise blood-alcohol concentration
- Criminal record
- The possibility of a jail term
The loss of driving licence is a heavy penalty for lots of people, so the automatic ban has the most impact, assuming there is no prison term. In some territories, the automatic ban ranges from six months (may be reduced to three) while the high category involves three years (or possibly 12 months). Second offences are even higher and can involve a prison term.
How to Defend Yourself
Given the high stakes, you need legal representation to make the best defence in court. Your lawyer may be able to obtain a ‘Section 10’ ruling and factors taken into account under this include:
- If there were any extenuating circumstances
- Any other matter the court deems relevant
- Age and experience
- Health and mental condition
If a Section 10 is turned down, lawyers can still argue for reduced penalties, e.g. reduction of a fine on the grounds of an inability to pay or reduced ban period because of your employment.