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Drink Driving Penalties

If you’ve been charged with drink driving, you could be facing penalties that will have a significant impact on your life. Here’s a summary.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

The penalties for DUI charges include:

  • A $1100 minimum fine.
  • A licence disqualification of at least 12 months for a first offence, with a minimum three year disqualification if you have a previous drink or drug driving charge.
  • Possible imprisonment.
  • Six demerit points.

For further information about DUI, click here.

Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA)

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. Penalties can range from on the spot fines for less serious offences to 12 month licence disqualification and hefty fines for the most serious offences.

For further information about PCA penalties, click here.

Refusing a breath test can lead to licence disqualification and a fine.

What is Instant Loss of Licence (ILOL)?

Police can issue an ILOL when a person’s breath analysis test shows a reading that, if the person were convicted, would incur a mandatory disqualification period.  There are limited circumstances under which a magistrate can lift the ILOL, such as:

  • If there is a reasonable prospect of being found not guilty of the offence.
  • If it is a first offence and would be considered “trifling”.
  • If a summons has not been issued within a reasonable period of time.

The lifting of an ILOL is not an automatic right and legal advice is highly recommended if you want to investigate this option.

In the event that you are going to plead guilty to the charge and accept the disqualification, the court will take into account the licence loss period that has already been served.

Will my licence be disqualified?

When you have been convicted of a drink driving offence by a court, there is very little that can be done to reduce the minimum licence disqualification period.

There is no such thing as a “work only” licence or a restricted licence.  When your licence is disqualified, you can’t drive at all during the disqualification period.  If you’re caught driving after you have been disqualified by a court, you will face imprisonment.

A court does have power to reduce the disqualification to less than the prescribed minimum period. This can be as little as one month if it is a first offence and if the offence is ‘trifling’.

For further information about trifling offences, speak to one of our specialist traffic offence lawyers.

What happens after I am charged?

If you have been charged with a traffic offence, you should consider the following:

  • You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you decide to plead not guilty and defend the charge.
  • A summons will arrive in the post with your first court date. You must attend court at that time unless you have a lawyer acting for you. Summonses are usually sent within three months of the offence, but note that police have up to two years to issue a summons.
  • At the first court hearing, you can plead guilty if you wish and the court will issue you with a penalty. Seek legal advice before pleading guilty.
  • At the first court hearing, you can plead not guilty if you wish and the court will order that your case be prepared for trial.

What is the mandatory alcohol interlock scheme?

If a driver commits a serious drink driving offence, they must have an alcohol interlock device fitted to their vehicle until the end of the disqualification period and before they drive again. It is an offence for scheme participants to drive a vehicle that isn’t fitted with an interlock device.

A “serious” drink driving offence includes a second or subsequent offence of PCA. The criteria are:

  • Two drink driving offences within five years, both with a reading of or above 0.08; and
  • The person must have driven with a blood alcohol reading at or above 0.15; and
  • One offence of drink driving with a blood alcohol reading at or above 0.15; and
  • The person refused to provide a breath or blood sample for alcohol testing.

Drink driving charges can be technical and complicated. They can also impact your life in a range of ways, including interrupting your daily life because of loss of licence. Even when you apply to get your licence back, you may have to spend time as a probationary driver.

If you have been charged with a drink driving offence, you may be able to reduce the possible penalty or to defend the charge. Websters Lawyers has a team of experienced traffic lawyers who can provide you with excellent advice about the best way to proceed.

Contact us today for a free first interview. Because the sooner you act, often the better off you’ll be.


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*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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