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Is Drink Driving A Criminal Offence?


The short answer? Yes.

Many people are often surprised that ‘traffic offences’ are also ‘criminal offences’.

If you think about it – a contravention of a law is a ‘crime’, so contravening the Road Transport Act 2013 (where many driving offences are found) is no different.

Confusion can often occur because of the use of different terminology – like the difference between your ‘traffic record’ and your ‘criminal record’.

Penalty notices that you receive for things like speeding, running a red light and using your phone whilst driving, all appear on your traffic record, which is a record held by the RMS.

Offences like drink driving however, require you to go to Court. These offences would appear on both your traffic record (because it’s a road related offence) and your criminal record, because it is dealt with in Court.

To complicate matters even further, things that might have originated on a penalty notice (like a speeding fine) can end up on your criminal record as well, if you elect to take the matter to Court.

Many people are surprised by how seriously these sorts of matters are treated by the courts – not everybody walks away with a ‘section 10’.

In fact, both mid-range drink driving and high-range drink driving offence carry gaol as a potential penalty.

Other traffic offences that are also criminal offences include:

  • Driving whilst suspended or disqualified;
  • Driving with an illicit drug present in your system;
  • Dangerous or negligent driving; and
  • Police pursuit.

Image Credit – Iakov Filimonov © 123RF.com

Written by Angela Cooney on May 22, 2018

Angela is able to assist clients with all criminal offences such as assaults, drug charges, traffic matters, theft, break and enters, firearms, sexual offences and apprehended violence orders. Angela is an experienced Court advocate having appeared in the Local and District Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal as well as in Federal jurisdictions in a multitude of matters, including complex strictly indictable trials. View Angela's profile


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