Drink driving is a criminal offence which involves operating a motor vehicle whilst impaired by alcohol to the point that the effects render the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. No one ever sets out to drive while impaired, but poor decisions are often par for the course when alcohol is involved, rendering even the smartest and most law-abiding citizens momentarily irresponsible. If you’ve been charged with drink driving, there are a few things that you need to know.
Being Charged with Drink Driving
Queensland has fairly strict laws prohibiting drunk driving and it is considered a very serious offence. Despite this, it’s still a fairly common offence from day to day. Being charged with drink driving can result in fines, loss of driver’s license, job loss, and possibly imprisonment.
Queensland Drink Driving Alcohol Limits
The lowest and strictest level is the No Alcohol Limit. The no alcohol limit applies to drivers who are learners, P1, P2, and restricted license holders and commercial drivers. This level requires that the driver have zero alcohol in their blood. This comes with a penalty of a 3-month license suspension and will disqualify an offender for 3-9 months.
The next level drink driving charge is the General Alcohol Limit. This applies to everyone with a valid standard Queensland driver’s license and states that you cannot drive with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.05%.
Someone who is found to be over the 0.05% limit but under the next level of drink driving charge at 0.10% is considered a Low-Range drink-driving charge. People charged with this level are disqualified for 1-9 months and are required to install an Alcohol Ignition Interlock device in their car for a year after they regain driving privileges.
A Middle Range drink driving charge occurs when a driver’s BAC is registered between 0.10% and 0.15%. This is the second most severe penalty a drink driver can incur and carries a maximum penalty of 6 months jail-time. Those charged with this level are disqualified for 3-12 months and are required to install an Alcohol Ignition Interlock device in their car for a year after they regain driving privileges.
The highest range of drink driving charge is the High Range drink driving limit, also known as driving under the influence (DUI). A High Range drink driving charge will occur if you are pulled over and register with a BAC over 0.15%. This is the most serious drink driving offence in Queensland and carries a maximum penalty of 9 months imprisonment. If you are convicted of a high range offence, a court cannot allow you to obtain a driver’s license for a minimum of 6 months.
What Can Affect Your BAC?
Your age, weight, and gender are inherent characteristics which play a significant role in your BAC. Also important is how much you drink (your tolerance to alcohol), what you drink (the alcohol concentration of your drinks), whether you’ve eaten, and if you are on any medications that may enhance how the alcohol may affect you. Your body type and metabolism will impact how alcohol is processed by your system which will affect your level of intoxication and BAC.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that no amount of drinking before driving is a safe amount of drinking before driving, regardless of any of the above factors.
Drink Driving Penalties
Any level of drink driving charge can impact your life in a number of ways. At the very least, you can expect fines and losing the privilege of obtaining a Queensland driver’s license. However, there are many other possible penalties such as:
- License Suspensions: There are varying levels of license suspension. To avoid accidentally driving on a suspended license, it’s important to understand Queensland’s DUI laws.
- Less than 0.10%: With a BAC less than 0.1%, your license will be suspended for a 24 hour period.
- 0.10% or Higher: With a BAC above 0.1%, your license will be suspended from the time of the charge until the matter is finalized.
- License Disqualifications: A drink driving charge will disqualify your driver’s license, though the length of the disqualification will depend on the level of the charge, as outlined above.
- Fines: Fines for drink driving charges can range from mere hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, sometimes you can do probation, community service, or jail time in lieu of a fine.
- Probation: Usually imposed on young drivers or repeat offenders, probation involves meeting a probation officer at least once a week for a period from 6 months – 3 years, depending on the ruling of the magistrate.
- Community Service: Requires a person to complete 40 – 240 hours of service in the community to repay their debt to society.
- Imprisonment: Jail time may be ordered, though sentences are often suspended or granted immediate parole except in the most serious cases.
- Alcohol Interlock Device Installation: A device attached to the vehicle’s ignition, an AID will prevent the vehicle from starting until you blow into the device and it registers zero alcohol.
- Conviction Record: Usually, a conviction will be recorded but sometimes a judge/magistrate will determine that it should not be. A conviction record can have far reaching consequences, especially when applying for jobs or travelling.