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Criminal Law Blog VIC

The Geelong Cats were harder on Simpson than the court for his first offence drink driving charge

Dawson Simpson, an injured ruckman who plays for the Geelong Cats in the AFL, was convicted of drink driving after tests administered by the police produced a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading of 0.10. That result is double the legal limit of 0.05 in Victoria.

Court penalties

News reports state that Simpson was fined $700 and that his licence was disqualified for 10 months. The disqualification followed an on-the-spot suspension that the police in Victoria impose whenever a test result is 0.08 or higher.

The court-imposed penalty is standard in Victoria for a first offence when the driver has a 0.10 BAC. After Simpson’s disqualification ends, he will need to apply to VicRoads for reinstatement of his licence.

Like all persons convicted of drink driving in Victoria, Simpson must attend a drink driving course. The course consists of four two-hour sessions.

The club’s response

The Cats took swift action against Simpson. In addition to the court-imposed fine, the Cats fined Simpson $2,000. The club will also require Simpson to install an alcohol interlock on his vehicle, at his own expense, after his licence is reinstated. Simpson has been told to keep the interlock in place for 6 months.

An alcohol interlock prevents a vehicle from starting if, after the driver blows into a tube connected to the device, a sensor detects the presence of alcohol. The cost of installing and maintaining the device for 6 months will be about $1400.

For a first offence, Victoria law does not require an ignition interlock unless the offender had a test result of at least 0.15. The Cats have therefore imposed a penalty upon Simpson that the law does not require, presumably to impress upon him the importance of abstaining from drinking if he intends to drive.

The Cats also required all of its players to attend the same drink-driving education course that Simpson must attend. Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said he wants to “educate the entire playing group to the consequences of drink-driving.” Coaches and officers of the club are apparently not subject to the education requirement imposed upon the players.

Could Simpson have contested the charge?

Every person has the right to present a defence in court to a drink driving charge. Too little information appears in media reports to know whether Simpson might have contested the charge successfully.

Although defences to drink-driving are often available, high-profile individuals who are not facing the possibility of incarceration often want to admit guilt and dispose of a charge as quickly as possible. By doing so, they demonstrate responsibility and prevent the story from remaining in the public eye. Drivers who are less subject to public attention should consult a lawyer and consider all their options before deciding whether to plead guilty.

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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