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Special range drink driving

The offence of special range PCA is committed by a person who drives a motor vehicle on a public road with a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.02 and 0.049. Any person who is subject to a zero alcohol limit while driving may be charged with special range PCA.

Broadly speaking, this offence will usually apply to a person who has a special licence such as a learner licence, P1 provisional licence or P2 provisional licence. It will also apply to bus drivers and taxi drivers who will usually have a 0.02 limit while operating a bus or taxi service.


Police can issue either:

  • an infringement notice, which carries a $572 fine; or
  • a court attendance notice for the offence.

If you receive an infringement notice, you will also either receive an immediate suspension notice from the police or one subsequently from the RMS suspending your licence for a period of three months.

If you receive a court attendance notice, or elect to take the matter to court, the maximum penalty for this charge depends on whether a person is a first offender (20 penalty units) or second and subsequent offender (30 penalty units). If a court sentencing a person records a conviction, it must make a disqualification order. The automatic period of disqualification for a first-time offender is 6 months. The court can reduce this period but  cannot reduce it below the minimum disqualification period of 3 months.

Regardless of whether police issue an infringement notice or a court attendance notice, they can also issue an immediate notice of suspension. This immediate notice of suspension means the offender’s driver licence will be suspended on the spot for a period of 3 months.

Will I get a criminal record if I receive an Infringement notice for a special range PCA charge?

No. The offence will remain on the person’s traffic record and/or infringements record, but will not form part of their criminal record.

Do I need to attend court if I receive an Infringement Notice?

The person will not be required to attend court, unless they make a court election or wish to appeal the immediate notice of suspension or the RMS notice of suspension. Such appeals are to be filed at a Local Court Registry accompanied by a filing fee, relevant legal forms and associated paperwork.

Will I get a criminal record if I receive a Court Attendance Notice for a Special Range PCA charge?

If the court elects to record a conviction, you will have a criminal record. Drink driving is considered to be a serious offence, and the starting point for the sentencing court is the recording of a criminal conviction,  with the imposition of a fine and a period of licence disqualification. It may be possible to avoid a criminal record if you are afforded the leniency of a section 10 non-conviction order.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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