Mid range drink driving
The offence of mid range PCA is committed by a person who drives a motor vehicle on a public road with a blood alcohol concentration from 0.08 to 0.149. If you are convicted by a court, which is the most likely outcome, the maximum penalty for a first offender is imprisonment for 9 months and a fine of 30 penalty units.
Upon conviction, the maximum licence disqualification is for 6 months and the interlock program for 12 months. However, if you are exempted from an interlock device, then the automatic disqualification is 12 months.
The maximum penalty for a repeat offender following the recording of a criminal conviction is imprisonment for 12 months, a fine of 50 penalty units, maximum licence disqualification for 9 months and the interlock program for 24 months. However, if you are exempted from an interlock device, then the automatic disqualification is 3 years.
Will I get a criminal record for a mid range PCA charge?
Most likely. Drink driving at any level is considered to be a serious offence. The penalties for mid range drink driving are significantly more severe than those for low range drink driving because of the level of alcohol in the offenders system. The starting point for a sentencing court in a mid range drink driving matter will always be the recording of a criminal conviction, together with a maximum licence disqualification of 6 months and the interlock program for 12 months for a first offender or 9 months disqualification and the interlock program for 24 months for a repeat offender.
What does it mean to have a criminal conviction recorded?
The consequences of having a criminal conviction recorded against you can be very serious. For example, many employers will conduct a background check on potential employees as part of the recruitment process including a police check. A police check could reveal if you have a criminal conviction recorded against your name, and the offence for which it was recorded. This may impact the employer’s decision in whether or not to employ you.
In certain professions a criminal conviction may need to be reported to a regulatory body. For example, a member of the legal profession must report any criminal convictions to the relevant law society who will then make a determination as to whether that legal practitioner should be allowed to be admitted or continue to practice law.
A criminal conviction may also inhibit future overseas travel. Many countries require visitors to obtain a visa prior to entering the country. As part of the visa process, the applicant will more than likely need to disclose any criminal convictions. Depending on the policy of the particular country for which the visa is being sought, the visa may or may not be granted based on your criminal record.
Is it possible to avoid a criminal conviction for a mid range PCA charge?
It is possible to avoid a criminal conviction for a mid range PCA charge, in limited circumstances. If the court thinks it is expedient not to convict you, it may deal with you by a section 10(1)(a) non conviction order of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 or a section 9(1)(b) Conditional Release order of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
However, section 203 of the Road Transport Act 2013 outlines that a person can only receive one non conviction order, which includes s9(1)(b), within a five year period.
Is it possible to avoid having my licence disqualified for a mid range PCA charge?
If you are afforded the leniency of a section 10(1)(a) non conviction order of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 or a section 9(1)(b) Conditional Release order of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, this means that your licence will not be disqualified.
What is an Interlock Order?
An interlock order is an order made by the court when you are sentenced for certain offences. It is a court order that disqualifies you from driving and, after that disqualification period ends, requires you to obtain an ‘interlock drivers licence’ and participate in the interlock program for a specified time.
Participation in the interlock program means that you must:
- Go to your GP for an assessment to get a Drink-less medical certificate. This must be done within the last 4 weeks of your disqualification period;
- Get an interlock device installed in your car by an approved provider;
- Blow into the device and register a nil alcohol reading anytime you start your car;
- Blow into the device and register a nil alcohol reading at random times while you are driving your car; and
- Drive no other car for the duration of the program.
If the device detects alcohol on your breath, the car’s engine will turn off and you won’t be able to re-start the car. The device also keeps a log of when this occurs which can be viewed by Police and can lead to further charges.
If you are not granted an exemption by the court and you cannot or do not comply with the interlock order then you will be disqualified from driving for five years.
Are there any exemptions?
Yes, but only when you can show the court that there would be severe hardship to you if the interlock order was made.
Do I need a lawyer to represent me for a mid range PCA charge?
It is your choice whether to represent yourself or whether to have a solicitor represent you in Court. In making this choice, it is important to bear in mind that although it is often trivialised in the community, drink driving, particularly in the mid range is taken very seriously by the Court. It can also be very daunting for a person who has no experience with the criminal justice system to find themselves facing this sort of charge. Our solicitors specialise in these matters and will use their experience and expertise to lead you through the process to the best possible outcome.
WHERE TO NEXT?
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.