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Drink Driving in Queensland

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Drink Driving Laws in Queensland

Queensland has very strict laws in relation to drink driving. The laws and subsequent penalties in place are to deter drivers from taking the very dangerous risk of driving whilst intoxicated. As a road user, it is important to understand the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration limit, and the penalties for being over that limit whilst driving.

Drink driving is a major risk for Australian road users, with 20% of drivers killed on the roads having a Blood Alcohol Concentration exceeding the legal limit of .05. If you are caught drink driving, you face being disqualified from driving, fines and even imprisonment.

Sections 79, 79A and 80 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) (TORUM) Act 1995 defines drink driving and provides for the penalties for violations of the law.

Penalties for Drink Driving

Under Section 79, a motorist is disqualified from driving if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) exceeds the required limit. Penalties that may be imposed include fines, a disqualification from driving, and imprisonment.

When your Blood Alcohol Concentration is…

  • 0.05 and over, but under 0.10 BAC. You are disqualified from driving between 1 month and 12 months and the payment of a fine ranging from $1,540 to $6,600 or imprisonment for a maximum term of 3 to 18 months.
  • 0.10 and over, but under 0.15 BAC. You are disqualified from driving between 6 months and 18 months and the payment of fine ranging from $2,200 to $6,600 or imprisonment for a maximum term of 6 to 18 months.
  • 0.15 BAC or higher. You are disqualified from driving for 6 months to 2 years and payment of fine ranging from $3,080 and $6,600 and/or imprisonment for a maximum term of 9 months to 18 months.

If you are a Learner, Provisional, Probationary, or other driver that is subject to a limit of 0.00

  • more than 0.00, but under 0.05 BAC. You are disqualified from driving between a period of 3 to 9 months and ordered to pay a fine ranging from $1,540 to $6,600, you also face possible imprisonment for a maximum term of 3 to 18 months.

Important! Suspension of your license is automatic if your blood alcohol content exceeds the BAC limit placed upon you by your license type. Your license will be suspended for 24 hours from the confirmed reading.

If you fail to give a specimen sample (breath or blood) or if you are caught over the middle limit of .10, your license will be suspended until after your matter is dealt with by the court.

A local Magistrate will determine the period of driving disqualification, the size of the fine and whether your offence is serious enough to warrant a custodial sentence (prison). A history of drink driving or other traffic violations may lead to higher penalties.

Other Penalties for Drink Driving

The Magistrate may also hand down the following orders for drink driving offences: community service, probation, an intensive correction order, a suspension of sentence, imprisonment with immediate parole and the use alcohol ignition interlock.

The Court may suspend, withhold, or not activate the imposition of sentence either in full or partially.

The Court may also order you to be required to use an alcohol ignition interlock. This is a breath-testing device that will be attached to your vehicle’s ignition to stop the engine from starting if the driver has been drinking alcohol. It does this by requiring a breath test prior to allowing the engine to start, should the driver blow a positive test, the engine will not start. Normally, the alcohol ignition interlock is required if you are convicted of any of the following offences:

  • convicted for drink driving offence with a blood/breath alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more, or driving under the influence of liquor, or you failed to provide a blood/breath sample for laboratory analysis; or
  • convicted for dangerous driving while under the influence of alcohol; or
  • convicted for 2 or more drink driving offences of any kind within the period of 5 years.

Arrested for Drink Driving?

Drink driving charges can be very stressful. You will be required to attend court and if convicted, you will lose your license. Losing your license can affect your means of income and severely limit your transport options.

The following simple steps will give you some confidence in preparing for the process, keep you informed and allow you to prepare to apply for a special work license.

  • Get a copy of the police brief. Normally, the arresting police officer will record the incident of drink driving violation. The arresting officer will take note and record the arrest, which will form the basis of a police brief also known as QP9. The brief will be presented to the police prosecutor who files appropriate charges in court. The QP9 contains the facts that the police allege occurred and are seeking to rely on, the arresting officers name, and the charge.

Ideally you should obtain a copy of the QP9 before the date appearing on the Notice to Appear (your court date). Normally, the arresting officer issues the Notice to Appear to you at the time of the arrest. It is wise to seek legal help as soon as you are arrested to know any defenses or mitigating circumstances to your charge. Sometimes the brief may contain errors, which can be remedied at the earliest possible time.

  • Apply for a special work license. A special work license will allow you to continue driving during the period you are disqualified, but for work purposes only. You must show to the court that you will suffer severe financial hardship if you will not be permitted to drive during the disqualification period. Usually this is done through a letter from your employer.

To be eligible for a special work license, the applicant must meet certain requirements.

  • They must be a holder of Queensland provisional or open license, and
  • Have had a blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.15 upon arrest, and
  • Must not have lost their driver’s license for any driving violations for the past 5 years or have been convicted of a drink driving offence or been convicted because you failed to provide a breath or blood specimen sample, and
  • At the time of the offence you must not have been driving for work purposes, and
  • At the time of the offence you must not have been driving on a work license.

It is best to further consult a solicitor should you require a special work license. A solicitor will be further able to inform you of your options, and to represent your interests to the court.

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