Drink Driving is an offense that hinges on the driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration. The blood alcohol concentration is the number of grams of alcohol per millilitre of blood. The legal blood alcohol concentration is 0.05.
Across Australia, for all learners and all holders of probationary or provisional licenses and holders of special licenses for driving (cabs and trucks), the prescribed blood alcohol level is 0.00.
If you hold a learner’s or provisional or probationary licence however, and your BAC is more than 0.00, then you will be considered to have violated drink driving laws and you will be penalized with a fine and a disqualification.
For holders of full licences, the legal blood alcohol concentration is 0.05. This means that if you are a holder of a full licence and you are routinely stopped for a sobriety check; an alcohol breath test is administered; and your BAC is less than 0.05 there are no legal consequences for drink driving. That is not to say, however, that there are no other crimes which can be charged against you.
There are other driving offenses related to drinking alcohol but these are discussed elsewhere under the headings: drunk driving, driving under the influence of intoxicating alcohol and dangerous driving.
In the four states of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC), Western Australia (WA) and South Australia (SA), first offenses often carry a penalty of infringement (a notice) given by the apprehending police officer.
The infringement notice will contain the amount of the fine which the first time offender will pay. The offending driver can accept the infringement notice and pay the fine or he may object to the infringement and appear in court where the magistrate will determine the facts and mete out the appropriate penalty.
Paying the fine will result in the disqualification of the offending driver from driving for a period of three months. In the state of Queensland (QSD), the laws are quite stringent: there no infringement notice will be issued even upon a first offense: all drink driving charges are dealt with in court and the fines are stiff (minimum of $1540).
If you get caught within the territorial jurisdiction of Queensland, depending upon the level of BAC at the time of the apprehension, the disqualification from driving is automatic and for not less than 3 months. There is also the possibility of imprisonment of a minimum of 3-18 months depending on the type of licence you hold and the level of BAC you had.
The significance of being merely issued an infringement (TIN) as opposed to having to appear in court is: usually, the TIN will not appear as a criminal record. It will appear as part of your driving record but it will not yet be counted as a criminal charge unlike if you appear in court and your guilt or innocence is judicially determined.
The infringement, however, will be taken into consideration as the basis for counting subsequent offences and for increasing the penalty you may be given for a subsequent offence.
All the five states have gradated penalties of fines, disqualification from driving and imprisonment depending on whether the BAC is low level (usually more than 0.05 until less than 0.08), mid-level (more than 0.08 until less than 0.15) and high level (usually more than 0.15).
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.