Can I Keep My Licence and Avoid a Criminal Record?

The sentencing statistics for drink driving offences indicate that the majority of drink driving offenders are convicted and have their drivers licences disqualified. However, in all drink driving matters a court has the discretion not to convict you but deal with you under the terms of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. If you are not convicted, there would be no penalty, no loss of licence, and no criminal record.

What is a Section 10?

The expression ‘section 10’ refers to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. This section allows a court that finds you guilty of an offence, to discharge you without recording a conviction. Because there is no conviction, there is no criminal record. Additionally, there is no loss of driver’s licence and no other penalty.

How Can I Obtain a Section 10?

Courts do not give out section 10’s lightly. A court will usually need a lot of convincing before granting you a section 10. The law says that in deciding whether to give a person a section 10, the court must consider the following issues:

  • Your age, character, record, health and mental condition
  • The trivial nature of the offence
  • Any extenuating circumstances
  • Anything else the court perceives to be relevant

Can I Pay a Greater Fine to Avoid Losing My Licence or Being Convicted?

It is not possible to bargain with the court that you would pay a larger fine to avoid losing your licence nor is it possible to spend a longer period of disqualification to avoid a criminal conviction.

What Are My Chances of Obtaining a Section 10?

The Table below indicates the percentage of offenders dealt with under section 10 for each major drink driving offence


In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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