Drink driving charge in South Australia?

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What are the penalties for Drink driving?

There are very few lawyers who specialise in drink driving related matters. South Australian Traffic laws are constantly changing and as Criminal and Traffic Law experts we pride ourselves on our up-to-date knowledge. There are a number of different offences created by the legislation. Commonly, people believe that they have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) when in fact they have been charged with exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA).

In addition, the consequences of a drink driving offence might be significant for many people who rely upon their licence to work.

If you are charged with exceeding the PCA a number of different consequences may occur. Penalties have been increasing significantly. Even if you are a first offender on a full licence and have a reading greater than .05%, then you will face a mandatory loss of licence for at least 3 months. If your reading is greater than .08%, then you face a category 2 offence and are liable to be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for at least 6 months. If your reading is greater than .15%, then you face a Category 3 offence and a loss of licence for at least 12 months.

These are minimum penalties only. For subsequent offences you may face a minimum of 3 years licence disqualification if you have a prior conviction within the prescribed period and commit a further Category 3 offence.

You are likely to receive an immediate notice of disqualification from the police. Later, you will receive a summons from the police. When you go to court, the court can impose a loss of licence far greater than the minimum stated in the notice. If your offending is combined with other offences, or aggravated by other means, (i.e. an accident or high speed) then you should expect an increase from the minimum. Likewise, if your reading is toward the higher end of a category, then you may receive an increase in penalty.

We will provide you with honest and accurate advice as to whether you have a defence. If you are pleading guilty we can assist you in presenting your personal situation to the court with a view to reducing the period of disqualification you might otherwise face. In addition, after your licence is cancelled there are many occasions where you will have to participate in the alcohol interlock scheme before graduating onto a full licence.

What is the difference between DUI and PCA?

Generally driving under the influence (DUI) can involve the use of alcohol and/or drugs. The police need to prove that at the time you attempted to put a motor vehicle in motion or drove that your faculties were appreciably impaired to the extent that you could not exercise effective control of the vehicle. Bloodshot eyes, unsteady on your feet, swaying, and slurred speech are all common observations. By law the actual reading recorded by the breathalyser does not matter as the focus is on the level of your impairment. The penalties are the same as a Category 3 PCA offence, except that imprisonment can be imposed. It is normally reserved for repeat offenders.

Exceeding the Prescribed Concentration of alcohol (PCA) does not concern itself so much with your level of impairment but the reading obtained by the breathalyser at the time you blew into the machine. Impairment may of course add to the level of penalty. PCA is a technical offence and many lawyers are not aware of the law. We at Woods & Co have been leaders in this field for decades. In order to prove a PCA offence the prosecution need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were the driver of the vehicle. They also need to ensure strict compliance with a number of pre-requisites. That is because the law creates a legal fallacy. It creates a presumption that your breath analysis reading taken at the time of the reading was constant throughout the preceding two hours. In other words, it is presumed at law that you had the same reading while driving. Without that legal fallacy the prosecution could not prove the case against you. Therefore, before they can rely upon that false presumption they must comply with a number of things strictly. At Woods & Co we are experts and can advice you as to your prospects of defence.

What if I refuse or fail an alco test or breath analysis?

It is an offence to disobey a reasonable direction of a police officer in respect of a breath analysis. Again it is a complex area and you should obtain legal advice from an experienced lawyer who specialises in this area. Generally, if the request is antecedent to the actual request to blow into the alco test or breath analysis a lesser offence may be made out. However, if without a lawful excuse you fail or refuse a breath analysis then you face a minimum loss of drivers licence for a period of 12 months for a first offence. A subsequent offence may result in 3 years disqualification. You may have a defence if the prosecution cannot prove the direction was reasonable. If that is established then you need to establish that you had a lawful excuse for failing or refusing. If you have a medical condition then it may provide a defence if you have a blood test. Use our experience at Woods & Co Lawyers who are specialists in this area.

How do I get my drivers licence back?

If you have received an instant loss of licence notice (ILOL) from the police then your licence is suspended. You must not drive while suspended as imprisonment may result. You can make an application to the Magistrates court to have the ILOL lifted. You must establish that you have an arguable defence to the charge and are not guilty of another charge to which the notice applies. In reality you are likely to require an experienced solicitor to assist. You cannot get your licence back for work purposes.

If you appear in court and plead guilty or are found guilty then your drivers licence is cancelled. Once you have completed any period of disqualification you must not drive until and unless you receive a proper licence from the Department of Transport. If you fail to do so then you face a loss of drivers licence of another 3 years. If you drive when your licence has been cancelled by the court then you face a serious charge of driving while disqualified.

Sometimes the demerit points may result in you accruing further disqualification from the department of transport. In addition, some licences may be subject to the alcohol interlock scheme before progressing onto a full licence.

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If you have a drink driving charge contact our experienced team in Adelaide.