Drink driving

 

In Queensland it is illegal to drive a car or other vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Whether you can be charged with drink driving will depend on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of driving, the type of licence you hold and the type of vehicle you were driving. If you have been charged with a drink offence you should seek legal advice.

What is the legal alcohol limit?

There are four different key alcohol limits. These are:

-          The zero alcohol limit, which is 0.00

-          The general alcohol limit, which is 0.05

-          The high alcohol limit , which is 0.10

-          The very high alcohol limit, which is 0.15

If you are breath tested by police and return reading that shows you have a BAC that is over the general limit but below the high limit, then this is referred to as a B.A.C (blood alcohol content) charge. If you return a reading which shows that you have a BAC which is over the high limit, then this is referred to as a U.I.L (under the influence of liquor) charge.

Whether you are over the legal alcohol limit depends on the type of driver’s licence that you hold. If you are the holder ofa learner, P1/P2 provisional or probationary license and you are under 25 then the legal BAC you can have is 0.00. If you hold an open license, or you hold a learner, P1/P2 provisional or probationary license but you are over 25, the legal BAC you can have is 0.05.

If you hold a license and are driving, or in charge of, a truck, bus, articulated motor vehicle, B-double, road train, vehicle carrying dangerous goods, taxi, limousine, tow truck, pilot vehicle, and public passenger vehicle or any driver supervising a learner driver, then you must have a BAC of 0.00.

Can I be charged with drink driving if I am not actually driving the vehicle?

To be charged with drink driving you must be either driving or in charge of the vehicle. You are charge of a vehicle if you start or attempt to start it, move it, or are sitting in the passenger’s seat with the keys in the ignition or close by. 

What happens if I am caught drink driving?

If you are pulled over by police and they suspect you are under the influence of alcohol, you must, if required by the police officer:

-          give your name and address

-          show your driver's license

-          take a road side breath test

-          get a doctor to take blood from you for a blood test

-          take a breath test at a police station

A failure to comply with the police officer’s request that you do any of the above is an offence.

If you return a breath test reading that shows that your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit then the police will usually issue you with a Notice to Appear. This is a document which states the date on which you must attend court.

Can I drive after I have been charged with drink driving until I attend court?

If you are charged with drink driving and are over the general alcohol limit (0.05), but under the high alcohol limit (0.10), then you will be automatically suspended from driving for 24 hours. However after 24 hours you can continue to drive until you are sentenced in court.

In certain circumstances, after you have been charged with drink driving you will be automatically suspended from driving until you attend court. These circumstances are:

  • You have been charged with a low range drink driving offence (over 0.0 but under 0.10 BAC) while an earlier drink driving charge is still pending or you were holding a replacement license ordered by the court
  • You have been charged with a mid range or high range drink driving offence (0.10 BAC and over)
  • You failed to provide police with a specimen of breath or blood when requested
  • You have been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence.

If you are caught driving while you are automatically disqualified you can be charged with the further offence of driving while your license is suspended.

What are the penalties for drink driving?

The Notice to Appear that was issued to you by the police will tell you the day and time that you need to attend court. At court, the Magistrate will decide what sentence you receive. This will depend on the severity of your drink driving offence and your previous traffic history.

For your first drink driving offence, if your BAC is over 0.00 and below 0.05, and you hold a learner a P1/P2 provisional or probationary license and you are under 25 then the legal, or the driver of one of the motor vehicles which requires a 0.00 BAC, then the maximum license disqualification you can receive is 9 months, the maximum fine you can receive is $1,593.90 and the maximum term of imprisonment you can receive is 3 months.

For your first drink driving offence, if your BAC is over 0.05 but below 0.10, the maximum license disqualification you can receive is 9 months, the maximum fine you can receive is $1,593.90 and the maximum term of imprisonment you can receive is 3 months.

For your first drink driving offence, if your BAC is over 0.10 but below 0.15, the maximum license disqualification you can receive is 12 months, the maximum fine you can receive is $2,277.00 and the maximum term of imprisonment you can receive is 6 months.

For your first drink driving offence, if your BAC is over 0.15, the maximum license disqualification you receive is not limited, but you will receive at least a 6 month disqualification, the maximum fine you can receive is $3,187.80 and the maximum term of imprisonment you can receive is 9 months.

If you have been charged with drink driving before, then there are additional penalties that the Magistrate can impose. You may:

-          Have your license disqualified for up to 2 years

-          Have your car impounded

-          Be fined up to $6000

-          Be sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment