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In addition to a high-range PCA offence, the driver was convicted of dangerous driving and driving while disqualified

A driver from Wagga Wagga is behind bars after being convicted of drink driving and three other offences. Although the man caused no injuries, his dangerous behaviour apparently convinced the court that incarceration was the only appropriate punishment.

The story

A news report explains that a police officer stopped the driver mid-morning in Kooringal. The officer thought the man was reaching for his driver licence when he suddenly drove away. While being pursued, the man drive through a red light and exceeded the speed limit before abandoning the attempt to evade the officer.

A chemical test revealed that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.16, well in excess of the legal limit of 0.05 in New South Wales. The driver had been disqualified from driving until 2016 for an earlier drink driving offence.

The charges and penalty

  • The man entered guilty pleas to four charges:
  • Driving with a high-range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA)
  • Dangerous driving
  • Driving while disqualified
  • Possession of a prohibited drug (cannabis)

A high-range PCA in New South Wales is a PCA offence committed with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher.

On the repeat drink-driving offence, the court sentenced the driver to imprisonment for 9 months and set a non-parole period of 5 months. The driver will likely be released from custody when the non-parole period expires.

The driver was placed on a good behaviour bond for the offences of dangerous driving and driving while disqualified. He was convicted of possessing cannabis but was given no additional penalty for that offence.

The court imposed a licence disqualification for each of the driving offences. They were ordered to be served concurrently so the longest disqualification will control. That 3 year disqualification will begin in 2016 after his current disqualification ends.

Understanding the sentence

New South Wales has established sentencing guidelines that magistrates typically follow. The driver’s sentence was motivated in part by the driver’s traffic record, which included (among other offences):

  • 2 previous offences of drink driving with a high-range PCA
  • A previous offence of drink driving with a mid-range PCA
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while disqualified

The court likely viewed a fine and another disqualification alone as insufficient to deter the driver from continuing to drive while disqualified after consuming alcohol.

To his credit, the driver has accepted that he has a problem with alcohol and, according to his lawyer, was “prepared to undergo full-time rehabilitation.” Whether he actually enrolled in or began a treatment program before sentence was pronounced is unclear.

Despite that mitigating factor, the magistrate concluded that he should follow the guideline recommendation of full time custody in cases of “increased moral culpability.” The danger caused by running a red light with a high BAC and the driver’s repeated acts of disqualified driving convinced the magistrate of the driver’s increased culpability.

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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