201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000
575 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
231 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000
1 Farrell Place
Canberra ACT 2601
111 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000
The NSW Parliament have recently passed legislation which significantly changes the way in which police can deal with those charged with certain drink driving offences.
Until 20 May 2019, a person charged with an offence of Drive with Low Range PCA is issued with a court attendance notice and is allowed to keep their licence until their court date. If the court were to impose a non-conviction order (a section 10 dismissal or Conditional Release Order without conviction), the person would not lose their licence at all.
This is not the case for Mid Range PCA or other more serious drink driving offences. Police will almost always issue anyone who they charge with a Mid Range, High Range or Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol a court attendance notice and an immediate notice of suspension. This means the person is suspended from driving from the moment they are charged until their matter has been resolved by a court and/or the end of any court imposed disqualification.
The police power to issue an immediate notice of suspension will soon extend to Low Range Offences. Previously, it did not. The police will also have the power to issue a traffic infringement, rather than a court attendance notice for this offence.
As of 20 May 2019, the police power to issue an immediate notice of suspension to a person will extend to people charged with offences of Drive with Low Range PCA, Special Range PCA and Novice Range PCA. Anyone charged with these offences may lose their licence on the spot, regardless of any defence they may have or their need for a licence.
This means that a person who has been driving for 40 years, with minimal traffic record and no other criminal history may lose their licence on the spot for registering a reading of 0.050 – 0.079. In some circumstances, the difference between a low range reading and being under the legal limit may be a difference of 10 or 15 minutes or a few mouthfuls of alcohol. Regardless, if police give this person an immediate notice of suspension, they won’t be able to drive unless a court imposes a non-conviction, or if they successfully make an appeal to the local court to revoke the immediate licence suspension.
A first court date is typically 4-6 weeks after the offence. An appeal to the Local Court typically takes 2 or more weeks to be heard and longer if the person is required to, or decides to complete, a traffic offender program. In this time a person may be unable to work, take their children to school or care for sick relatives. The consequences can be catastrophic and can include loss of employment, income, ability to care for someone and in some cases a home.
That being said, there are options available. A person can seek a court date be moved forward in certain circumstances, or they can file an appeal against the immediate suspension. Further information about immediate licence suspension appeals.
It’s important that all people understand the impact of the changes as the consequences can be significant.
As always, Armstrong Legal can be contacted on 1300 168 676 to provide legal advice and assistance. We can also assist with filing appeals to the local court and appearing on your behalf.
Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100