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A P plate driver, 27 years old, thought he was drinking only mid-strength beer.

According to him he drank four or five schooners of a certain brand of beer between 1pm and 11:30 pm. Cusack is a P plate driver for nine years. He was pulled over by the police on March 29, 2014 at 12:14 AM, 45 minutes after he had his last drink.  

Cusack registered a reading 0.154 in his blood alcohol concentration. He will not be driving for 18 months after being convicted of high range drink driving. He was also fined $1600 by Magistrate Lucas. Cusack’s solicitor, Rod Hunt, said that his client did not know what he was actually drinking was full strength beer because the drinks were supplied by another person.

When Cusack was arrested police officers noted that he exhibited behaviour moderately affected by alcohol with his watery eyes and slurred speech. Mr. Hunt said that the attention of the police officers was drawn towards Cusack, not because of his manner of driving but because of his being a P plate driver. However, Cusack was not even displaying his P plates at the time of the arrest.

The rules of NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services provide that P plate drivers, either P1 or P2, must display at the front and back of the vehicle their P plates. P plate drivers must have zero blood alcohol concentration whenever they drive a vehicle.

Under the Road Transport ACT 2013 if the P plate driver is categorized as a novice range driver and he has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.00 to 0.019 he may be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 3 months and/or fined to a maximum of $1000. 

The same penalties may apply if the P plate driver is categorized as a special range driver. High range drink drinking is when a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 and above for which the penalty is a maximum imprisonment of 18 months, court imposed fine of $3300 and a minimum disqualification from driving of 12 months.

In all ranges of drink driving, the court would also consider the driver’s traffic history, the alcohol level in his system, the driver’s character, need for a license and whether there are aggravating circumstances that calls for a higher penalty.  

As for the fact that Cusack has been on P plates for 9 years, Mr. Hunt said that his client could not afford to pay for a full license which did not convince Magistrate Lucas, who said that if Cusack could afford to pay for high range drink driving worth of drinks then he can afford to pay for a license.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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