This isn’t the first time our criminal lawyers in Frankston have talked about what can happen when you’re charged with drink driving.
Unlike last time however, this time we’re looking beyond just the penalties, and discussing what else can happen if you’re charged with drink driving.
Still have lingering questions about drink driving offences how they can affect you? Read on to learn everything you need to know about this offence.
What are the penalties for drink driving?
Just as with any other criminal case, what you might be charged with following a drink driving offence will depend on the nature of the offence.
For example, first offences and cases where your BAC is only a little bit over are usually treated more leniently.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that they’ll go easy on you.
As a general rule, there are a couple of penalties you may be hit with:
- licence suspension
- Demerit points
However, our drink driving lawyers in Melbourne are here to explain the handful of penalties that are unique to drink driving cases…
Is drink driving an automatic ban?
In Victoria, any drink driving case is automatically accompanied by a licence suspension, with the duration of the suspension depending on the offence.
Note how above we said licence suspension – while you won’t be able to drive for a certain period of time, it isn’t permanent (with the exception of serious or repeat offences).
The suspension period will depend on your particular case. In most cases however, once said period is over you may be required to complete a Behavioural Change Program (BCP).
These programs are designed to help you understand the reasons behind your drink driving, and thus help you avoid a repeat offence in the future.
Only upon completing this program will you be able to reapply for your licence.
What is the penalty in case of drunken driving for first offense?
Just because it’s a first offence doesn’t mean that you will escape the mandatory licence suspension period.
All drink driving cases will be accompanied by a licence suspension, including even first offences.
That having been said, the magistrate may be more lenient for first-time offences, and you may be given a shorter suspension period and a gentler BCP.
Of course, it all depends on the circumstances. If you have a high enough BAC, even the fact that it’s your first offence may not save you from harsher penalties such as:
- Having a lock-out device installed in your vehicle, which you’ll need to blow into before you get behind the wheel
- Getting your vehicle impounded
Do penalties differ by state?
Yes, the penalties for drink driving will depend on the state. For instance, Victoria is the only one that has a mandatory licence suspension period for drink driving offences.
Here’s another quirk of Victoria’s approach towards drink driving: did you know that Victorian licence holders who are charged with drink driving in other states will still have their licences suspended!
How your BAC level affects penalties
In Victoria, what penalties you may face depends on a number of factors, one of the most important being your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).
Depending on the result you return on a breath test, the duration that your licence will be suspended for will vary. For drivers over 26 who are fully licenced and who presented a BAC under 0.07, the minimum cancellation period is 3 months.
This period scales up, with each additional 0.01 BAC above 0.1 coming with an additional month, topping out at 2 whole years for a BAC of 0.24 or higher, which can even be extended by the magistrate in certain circumstances.
For instance, if you get behind the wheel while on a suspended licence, the magistrate may extend your suspension period, or even cancel your licence altogether.
Your BAC level will also affect other penalties, such as the size of your fine and the number of demerits you receive. The magistrate will also consider other factors, such as whether or not your drink driving caused damage or harm.
Certain drivers are required by law to maintain a 0.0 BAC, no matter what.
This group includes learners, P-platers and commercial drivers like taxi and truck drivers.
Any amount of alcohol in these drivers’ systems whatsoever will result in a minimum 3-month suspension.
Of course commercial drivers don’t only have licence suspensions to worry about…
Can you be sacked for drink driving?
Having your licence suspended can make things difficult for you, especially when it comes to work. Your commute can get a lot trickier without the ability to drive – that being said, it’s possible to figure something out.
While most people can work around a licence suspension to an extent, for individuals whose work involves driving, it’s a different story.
Obviously, it will depend on the employer – in many cases however, it isn’t unheard of for commercial drivers to be sacked following a drink driving offence.
Many even have clauses in their employment contracts allowing them to terminate employment in these cases.
Do you have to attend court for drink driving?
Most traffic offences are relatively minor, and are dealt with using on-the-spot fines issued by police.
Very rarely do routine traffic and driving offences end up going to court, with only the more severe cases appearing before a magistrate.
Drink driving is a little bit different.
Victoria is taking an increasingly strict stance towards these types of offences, resulting in more and more drink driving cases going before a magistrate.
During these appearances, it’s crucial that you retain the services of a traffic offence lawyer, regardless of whether you plan on pleading guilty.
Is it worth getting a solicitor for drink driving?
Just because there’s a mandatory licence suspension attached to drink driving doesn’t mean that you should give up and not bother defending yourself.
Engaging a solicitor in your defence can be essential when you’re charged with drink driving.
In addition to helping you understand court proceedings and processes, a lawyer can also argue your case and fight to ensure that you get the best outcome given the circumstances.
While that usually means arguing for your innocence, that can also mean appealing a sentence or arguing for a lesser penalty.
How long does a drink driving conviction stay on record?
Effectively even a traffic infringement notice can come up on a VicRoads record sheet – with this in mind, it’s virtually guaranteed that any drink driving convictions will also appear. Moreover, any adult convictions will stay on your record for good.
Our team of drink driving specialists can argue and make submissions to the court on your behalf in these types of cases, helping you avoid a conviction with the penalty and arguing for a non-conviction disposition instead.
Need a criminal lawyer to look after your drink driving case?
The right legal representation is critical when it comes to dealing with the criminal justice system, especially for something that can be as disruptive as drink driving offences.
When it comes to drink driving offences, it’s crucial that you have the right legal representation to ensure that you get the best outcome possible.
And that means getting in touch with criminal defence lawyers in Melbourne that specialise in drink driving cases.
Our lawyers can help you out with a range of different areas of criminal law. In addition to drink driving cases, we also function as bail lawyers, work with family intervention orders, and cover a whole range of criminal offences.
No matter what you’re accused of, our team can help guide you through the process and will ensure that you get the best outcome possible given the circumstances.
We also offer legal aid in Melbourne for a range of different cases, allowing you to enjoy legal representation without the price tag.