In New South Wales, it is an offence to use or attempt to use a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another drug. The offence of DUI is contained in section 112 of the Road Transport Act 2013.
What must be proven for a DUI charge to succeed?
A person can be found guilty of DUI in New South Wales if they are proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have
- Driven a vehicle
- Occupied the driver’s seat of a vehicle and attempt to put the vehicle in motion;
- Occupied the passenger seat of a car while a learner driver is driving;
While under the influence or a drug or drugs.
A person found guilty of DUI in New South Wales is liable to be fined up to 30 penalty units or imprisoned for up to 18 months, or both for a first offence or fined up to 50 penalty units or imprisoned for up to two years, or both, for a second or subsequent offence.
Detention of vehicle
The police may take charge of and remove a vehicle that is alleged to have been used to commit a DUI offence. The offender can be ordered to pay the costs associated with this if a court is satisfied that there was reasonable cause for taking charge of the vehicle.
DUI or drink driving?
When a person is charged with a drinking driving offence, such as driving with low-range, mid-range or high-range BAC, there must be evidence of what the person’s blood alcohol content was. This is usually the result of a breath test conducted by the police.
When a person is charged with DUI, there does not need to be evidence of what their BAC was. It is also not necessary for them to have been over 0.0.5. It is enough to prove that they were under the influence of a drug or alcohol. Evidence adduced to establish this may be the testimony of police officers who observed the person’s driving, speech, behaviour, gait, smell and other features of their appearance or behaviour that led them to form the view that the accused person was intoxicated.
Drink driver education programs
A person who is charged with DUI or another drink driving offence in New South Wales may be required to complete a drink driver education program before they are allowed to drive again. Even if a person is not required to complete such a program, they can choose to do so as a way of demonstrating to the court that they are taking positive steps towards avoiding similar offending in the future. This may – though is not guaranteed to – lead to a more lenient penalty being imposed in consideration of the steps they have taken to address their behaviour.
Pleading guilty to DUI
If you have been charged with DUI or another drink driving offence in New South Wales and are intending to plead guilty, you should do the following to prepare for your matter being finalised:
- Provide your lawyer with instructions about the circumstances of the offence, including how much you had to drink and why you were driving;
- If you are on a low income, provide proof of the amount of your income and what your expenses are. This will help the court to impose a fine that is no more than what is reasonable for a person in your financial position;
- Consider participating in a drink driver education program;
- Obtain character references to tender in court from people who know you well and are aware of the charges;
- Obtain evidence of any particular hardship that a licence disqualification will cause to you and your family. For example, if you rely on your license for work or to care for a sick relative, provide evidence of this to the court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.