Drink driving is technically called “driving with excess breath/blood alcohol” or “EBA” for short.
We understand that finding yourself facing this charge can be very stressful and you may have concerns about possible penalties you may face. To help we have provided the information below as a general guide as to the what you may expect to receive as a sentence if convicted. Sentences will vary depending on a person’s circumstances.
However, if this is a second offence within five years of a previous EBA conviction or is one with a high reading (over 800 μg/l for example) please read the information regarding the alcohol interlock sentence.
Should you have any questions or want to hear more about how we can help contact us today for a free no-obligation assessment.
First or Second Drink Driving Offence
- A conviction and permanent record thereof
- Usually at least six months disqualification
- Up to three months in jail – don’t worry though in most parts of the country jail would be a highly unusual outcome on a first or second drink drive offence
- A fine of up to $4,500. With a first offence usually expect a dollar per alcohol point. For example if you blew a reading of 500, then a fine of around $500 is to be expected
- Court costs – usually $132
- Community work – (For more information see our article on ‘Section 94’ sentencing here
Three Strikes’ – Third (or more) Drink Driving Offence
- A conviction and permanent record thereof
- Usually at least 12 months disqualification
- Up to two years in Jail
- A fine of up to $6,000
- Court costs – the least of your problems
- Community work – if you’re lucky
You may well be in serious danger of going to Jail! Do not go to court and plead guilty at your first appearance.
Call us now – You need serious help!
Alcohol Interlock Sentence
You can expect to receive an alcohol interlock sentence if:
- You have a prior EBA conviction within five years of the present charge; or
- Your breath alcohol reading exceeds 800 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath; or
- Your blood alcohol reading exceeds 160 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
An alcohol interlock sentence is a mandatory sentence recently introduced to the Land Transport Act 1998. The effect of this sentence means that you will be disqualified for a period imposed by the court, after which you will be unable to hold a licence other than an alcohol interlock licence.
The period of disqualification is generally 28 days. After this period you can apply for and alcohol interlock licence. When the licence is granted you will be required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to any vehicle you drive and you will have to meet the cost of this. The total cost is around $2,100.00 per vehicle across 12 months.
The device will be fitted to your vehicle for at least 12 months. Provided you have no breaches of your licence conditions within the last six months of this period the device can then be removed from your vehicle and you will then be eligible to apply for a zero alcohol licence which you will then need to carry for a further three years until you can get an unconditional licence.
Being a new sentence the alcohol interlock is relatively uncharted territory. We recommend you call us if you think this sentence applies to you.
If you’ve got a previous “qualifying” drink driving offence, this may be an issue. Offences for which confiscation can occur include having had two drink driving offences within four years of each other or if you are caught driving while suspended or disqualified.
Understand that when we say “confiscation”, we don’t mean car impoundment for 28 days. Car confiscation means that your car is taken away and sold at auction usually at a fire-sale price. We can usually protect your car against confiscation (and it’s not in the way that many people think it may – the court can actually claw back the car from the person to whom you transfer it).
Immediate licence suspension
Immediate licence suspension can be inflicted in some drink driving circumstances. For example, if you had breath alcohol concentration exceeding 650 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, then the officer has the power to suspend your licence immediately for 28 days. “But I haven’t even been convicted yet” you rightly protest. We agree – this piece of the law is extremely unfair.
- Different penalties apply to people aged under 20 years old. If you are under 20, the breath and blood alcohol limit is zero. If you can recorded a reading greater than 150 micrograms for breath or 30 milligrams for blood you are in the realm of criminal conviction and we recomment that you call us. If you exceed 400 (breath) or 80 (blood) we strongly recommend you call us.
- The date(s) of previous convictions can make a big difference and you may be facing extra penalties still. For example if you’ve had a particularly high reading or a refusal within the last five years or you’re charged with either of those offences this time (having had an ordinary EBA less than five years ago) then you’re facing “indefinite disqualification”. Too confusing? Call us.