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It is an offence for a person to drive or try to drive a motor vehicle if the concentration of alcohol in their blood is more than the prescribed limit.

The general prescribed limit is 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 mL of blood.

A special limit of 0.02 grams per 100 mL applies to drivers of:

  • public vehicles such as buses and taxis
  • vehicles carrying dangerous goods
  • vehicles over 13.9 tonnes.

The limit for learner drivers and drivers holding provisional licences is zero.

Blood alcohol concentrations are described as special, low, medium and high, with each range carrying a higher penalty.



Novice Range PCA

 0.00 - 0.02

Special Range PCA

 0.02 - 0.05

Low Range PCA

 0.05 - 0.08

Mid Range PCA 

 0.08 - 0.15

High Range PCA

 0.15 an above

Police have the power to require anyone driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle to undergo a breath test (Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act s.13). The test normally involves the police taking a sample of the driver’s breath using a device known as a Lyons Alcolmeter SD2.

Penalties for PCA offences vary depending on which range offence was committed. Obviously Low range offences carry a lesser penalty compared to a High range offence. Each penalty may also have an automatic disqualification period which applies to the offender.

PCA offencePenaltiesFirst OffenceSecond or subsequent offence

High range PCA
(Blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above)


Refuse a breath analysis, hinder or obstruct taking of a blood sample, wilfully alter the concentration in the blood.

Maximum court- imposed fine$3,300$5,500
Maximum gaol term18 months2 years
-minimum12 months2 years
-automatic*3 years5 years
Immediate licence suspensionYesYes
Mid range PCA
(Blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 to less than 0.15)
Maximum court- imposed fine$2,200$3,300
Maximum gaol term9 months12 months
-minimum6 months12 months
-automatic*12 months3 years
Immediate licence suspensionYesYes

Low range PCA
(Blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to less than 0.08)


Novice range PCA
(Blood alcohol concentration over zero for novice drivers)


Special range PCA
(Blood alcohol concentration over 0.02 for special category drivers)

Maximum court- imposed fine$1,100$2,200
Maximum gaol termN/aN/a
-minimum3 months6 months
-maximum6 monthsUnlimited
-automatic*6 months12 months
Immediate licence suspensionNoNo

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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