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Non-conviction Orders for Drink Driving


Everyone would like a non-conviction order when they come to court for their drink-driving matter.

The widely known and desired “Section 10” in NSW, or “Section 17” in the ACT, used to be easier to obtain, but tightening legislation and tougher sentencing practice in response to hardening community attitudes over recent years have meant non-conviction orders are becoming rarer beasts.

That is especially so if you come to court as a “second and subsequent” (NSW) or “repeat” (ACT) offender.

What chance would you have if you were before court on your fourth drink-drive?

Buckley’s, right?

Not necessarily.

One recent defendant in the ACT was surprised when he walked from court with just such a result.

Every case must turn on its own facts and circumstances, and this gentleman had some unique factors in his favour, including a very short actual journey and a reading not too far into the mid-range (or Level 3).

On the other side were his three previous matters (in 1975, 1987 and 1995), all of which had resulted in convictions.

His counsel did not immediately submit directly for a Section 17, suggesting only that fine and disqualification were adequate punishment (remembering that the Court could impose up to six months’ imprisonment).

But, finally, the lawyer did ask the magistrate to compare this 62-year-old defendant with a hypothetical 40-year-old who might have had the same 23 offence-free years (obviously of course, without the three previous court appearances). That hypothetical defendant, it was submitted, would be a more likely candidate for a non-conviction order.

The Magistrate agreed, and also took on board a raft of thoroughly prepared references, a carefully crafted letter of remorse from the defendant, a certificate showing completion of a relevant supervised course on the effects of drink-driving, and a map of the scene to explain some peculiarities of the defendant’s apprehension.

The comprehensive preparation, and understated style of submission, ultimately won the Court’s approval.

The defendant was placed on a Good Behaviour Order for 18 months, but walked from Court with his licence intact and no criminal conviction.

If you are going to court, it pays to be represented by a criminal-law specialist. The team at Armstrong Legal Canberra deal only in criminal and traffic matters, know the magistrates and judges they appear before, and are ready to provide assistance, tailored to your unique case, just lIke they did in the matter above.

Image Credit – Maksim Marchanka © 123RF.com

Written by Andrew Fraser on August 15, 2018

Andrew represents clients in the ACT Supreme and Magistrates Courts as well as the NSW Local and District Courts of the Canberra region. He appears also before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in licensing, mental-health and other matters. His breadth of experience allows him to tailor his advice and submissions to ensure the best possible results for his clients. View Andrew's profile


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