It goes without saying that drink and drug driving can have serious consequences. That is why the NSW drink driving laws are so strict, as are the laws regarding using a mobile phone while driving.
Drink Driving Statistics
In 2021, drink driving was responsible for one in seven fatal crashes in NSW. Nevertheless, a survey of drivers revealed the following:
- Approximately 5% admitted that, in the preceding six months, they had driven even though they believed they were probably over the legal blood alcohol concentration.
- Of these, 32% admitted that they had passengers in the vehicle at this time.
- Approximately 30% admitted they don’t know the legal BAC in NSW.
- Approximately 45% admitted they don’t know how many drinks they can have before reaching the legal BAC.
- Surprisingly, 60% said they favour fitting all cars with a device that checks BAC before allowing the driver to start the engine.
Drink Driving Penalties
Per NSW’s drink driving law, the maximum legal BAC you can have when driving is 0.05%. Anything over this subjects you to severe penalties that increase dramatically if you are a repeat offender, that is, if you have had one or more previous drink driving convictions.
The precise charges and penalties you face depend on which of the driving category you fall into and its associated BAC limit:
- Low range: BAC between 0.05% and 0.079%
- Mid range: BAC between 0.08% and 0.149%
- High range: BAC above 0.15%
Low Range Penalties
Even your first conviction can result in a court-imposed fine of $2,200 and suspension of your driver’s licence for six months. These penalties increase to $3,300 and an unlimited period of suspension for your second or subsequent convictions.
Mid Range Penalties
First conviction penalties in this range include nine-month prison term, court-imposed fine of $2,200 and suspension of your driver’s licence for an unlimited period of time. For a second or subsequent conviction, these penalties increase to a 12-month prison term, court-imposed fine of $3,300 and suspension of your driver’s licence for an unlimited period.
High Range Penalties
Penalties for a first conviction in this range include an 18-month prison term, a $3,300 court-imposed fine and suspension of your driver’s licence for an unlimited period. If you’re a repeat offender, these penalties increase to a 2-year prison term, $5,500 court-imposed fine and suspension of your driver’s licence for an unlimited period.
Driving Under the Influence Penalties
In addition to the above drink driving law penalties, you also face penalties if convicted of DUI, defined as driving while adversely affected by illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol. Here the first conviction penalties include an 18-month prison term, $3,300 in court-imposed fines and suspension of your driver’s licence for an unlimited period. The suspension period remains the same for a second or subsequent conviction, but the prison term increases to two years and the fine increases to $5,500.
Combined Drug and Alcohol Penalties
As of June 2021, a new law went into effect targeting repeat offenders with both an illegal BAC level and illegal drugs in their systems. Here the penalties in the low range category include an 18-month prison term, a $5,500 court-imposed fine and suspension of your driver’s licence for an unlimited period.
Mobile Phone Usage While Driving
In addition to drink driving laws, NSW also has strict laws about using mobile phone while driving:
- You can make or receive an audio phone call only if your phone is secured in a cradle fixed to your vehicle or you can operate it with Bluetooth or other controls that allow you to make calls hands-free.
- The same rules apply to using your phone’s music or audio functions.
- You can use a driver’s aid, such as a navigation system, only if your phone is secured in a cradle fixed to your vehicle.
Using any other function on your mobile while driving, such as texting, emailing, video calling, web browsing or accessing social media, is illegal. Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, it is illegal to hold and use your mobile while the vehicle is in motion.
Obtaining Legal Help
If you find yourself in the precarious position of being charged with breaking NSW’s drink driving laws or illegally using mobile phone while driving, you need the expert advice, counsel and representation of drink driving lawyers Parramatta. At Barwick Boitano Lawyers, our team of highly experienced lawyers specialise in drink driving, traffic offences, speed cameras and demerit points. Contact us today. We are fully prepared to be your drink driving lawyer of choice.