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Drink Driving PCA

If you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence, you may be under significant stress as you try to comprehend how it will impact your life. A bit of knowledge about the penalties can help you to understand the process.

What is Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA)?

It is an offence for a person to drive a motor vehicle, or attempt to drive a motor vehicle, with the PCA present in their blood. The PCA is 0.05 for an unconditional full licence holder and 0.00 for probationary/provisional licence holders and unlicensed drivers.

Unlike a driving under the influence offence, PCA is not concerned with the manner of driving. In fact, many people are charged with PCA offences because of a random breath test rather than poor driving.


The penalty for PCA offences depends on the alcohol reading and whether the offence is a first or subsequent offence. There are three categories of offences. The following applies to first offences:

Category 1

  • Blood alcohol concentration 0.05 to 0.079
  • On-the-spot fine of $771
  • Fine of $1,100
  • 4 demerit points

Category 2

  • Blood alcohol concentration 0.08 to 0.149
  • Mandatory licence disqualification of a minimum of 6 months
  • Fine of $900 to $1,300
  • 5 demerit points

Category 3

  • Blood alcohol concentration 0.150 or above
  • Mandatory licence disqualification of a minimum of 12 months
  • Fine of $1,100 to $1,600
  • 6 demerit points

If you already have prior drink driving convictions, the penalties become much harsher.

Expiation notices

Note that for a Category 1 offence that is a first offence, police must issue you with an expiation notice.  The matter usually ends when the fine is paid and there is no licence disqualification or conviction. But if you wish to challenge the offence, you can elect to be prosecuted. It is important to understand that this means that your case will go to court. If you are found guilty of the offence, your licence will be disqualified for three months. This is a mandatory requirement, meaning that the court must impose this penalty no matter what.

Demerit points

You must also understand that drink driving charges attract demerit points. If you plead guilty or if you are found guilty of the offence, the points are recorded against your licence. This means that if you exceed your demerit point limit, there may be a further period of disqualification over and above the court-imposed disqualification.

The laws in this area are complex because police rely on breath test results to prove the charges. The problem is, usually the person has no idea of their blood alcohol concentration at the time of driving. This means that they’re usually not in a position to challenge the result.

If you’ve been charged with a PCA offence, you’ll need expert legal representation as soon as possible. Websters Lawyers has an outstanding team of traffic lawyers who can assist you. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.


It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand

*Please note: Websters lawyers is a South Australian based law firm, handling matters exclusive to South Australia, with offices located in Adelaide, Ridgehaven and Smithfield.

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