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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...

Drink Driving in Queensland

A person who is caught drink driving in Queensland will be issued with a summons to appear at the Magistrates Court closest to where the offence was allegedly committed. The penalties will be decided by a magistrate and will include a period of licence disqualification and a fine or term of imprisonment. The severity of the penalty will depend on the blood alcohol concentration recorded at the time of the offence, the circumstances of the offending, traffic history, and any previous drink driving convictions. In Queensland, there are four limits that govern the penalty courts will impose. These are the no alcohol limit, the general alcohol limit (0.05 to 0.09), the middle alcohol limit (0.10 to 0.149), and the high range alcohol limit (over 0.15). The penalties for drink driving offences are set out in the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.

Immediate licence suspensions

If your BAC is in the general alcohol limit, then the police will issue you with an automatic 24-hour licence suspension. Police can also issue an immediate suspension if the offender has committed a low range offence while another drink driving matter is yet to be finalised by the courts, if you have been charged with mid or high range drink driving, if you have failed to provide a breath or blood sample for analysis, or if you are charged with dangerous driving in conjunction with a drink driving offence. The suspension remains in place until the matter is finalised by a court.

First-time drink driving penalties

If you have been charged with drink driving in Queensland and it is your first offence then the maximum suspension periods range from nine months to 12 months, and the fine from $1593.90 to $3187.80. If you hold a learner licence, a probationary licence or a provisional licence then you are on a no alcohol limit. The penalties for breaching a no alcohol limit include a maximum suspension of nine months, a maximum fine of $15963.90, and a term of imprisonment of up to three months. Any driver who is caught with a BAC of between 0.05 and 0.09 has committed a low-range offence, and can expect to receive a suspension of up to nine months, a maximum fine of $1593.90, and if warranted, a three-month jail term. A mid-range offence occurs when the BAC level is 0.10 to 0.149. The suspension period for a mid-range offence can be a maximum of 12 months, with a maximum fine of $2277.90, and a term of imprisonment of up to six months. If a person is caught driving with a BAC level of 0.15 or greater, they are guilty of a high-range offence. The suspension period for a high-range offence is at the magistrate’s discretion with no legislated maximum period, but the period imposed will not be less than six months. The maximum fine for a high-range drink driving offence is $3187.80, and a term of imprisonment of nine months. While terms of imprisonment are rare for first offences, a magistrate can impose a jail sentence if they believe the offence warrants a harsh penalty.

Penalties for repeat drink drivers

Repeat offenders caught drink driving in Queensland face higher penalties than those described above. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $6600 and issued with a suspension period up to two years. If they have a BAC of higher than 0.15, or fail to provide a blood or breath sample, their vehicle will also be impounded, and may be confiscated permanently. A person will be considered a repeat offender if they have had a previous drink driving offence in the past five years.

Further requirements after suspension period ends

All drink drivers who have had their driver’s licence suspended for a drink driving offence will be required to hold a probationary licence for a period of 12 months. This means the person will be subject to a no alcohol limit during this time. They will also have to have an interlock device fitted to their car for 12 months if their BAC was 0.15 or greater, they failed to provide a breath or blood sample, or they are a repeat drink driver offender. If the defendant decides not to have the interlock fitted they will be required to serve a further two-year suspension.

If you require legal advice or representation in relation to drink driving in Queensland or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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