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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

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...

Heavy Vehicle Driving Under The Influence


Being charged with a drink driving or drug driving offence can be a traumatic experience for most people. For truck drivers, an offence often means the loss of their livelihood.

Drink driving

Drivers of heavy vehicles are subject to a lower Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit than other drivers.

A BAC limit of 0.02 applies to drivers of:

  • a heavy motor vehicle (one which has a GVM or GCM exceeding 13.9 tonnes).
  • a coach.
  • certain vehicles carrying dangerous goods or radioactive substances.

The maximum penalty that the court can impose for a drink driving offence depends on the BAC reading, and whether the driver has had another major traffic offence in the past five years.

Drug driving

There is a temptation for truck drivers to take illegal stimulants to fight fatigue or depressants to sleep. However, truck drivers face significant penalties.

These offences and maximum penalties are the same for truck drivers as they are for those apprehended while driving cars, but courts are particularly strict when sentencing truck drivers because:

  • Illegal drug use is prevalent among truck drivers because they are often under pressure to drive long distances in the shortest possible period of time, and so many feel pressured to turn to drugs to enable them to push their limits; and
  • A heavy vehicle driven by someone under the influence of a drug is very dangerous simply by virtue of its size and speed.

Section 10

Regardless of how bad your traffic record is, the court has a discretion whether to record a conviction against you for the offence. If the court decides not to record a conviction, you will not be disqualified from driving. Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act allows a court that finds a person guilty of an offence the discretion not to impose a conviction against them

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

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