Criminal Law

What Happens if You Get Caught Drink Driving?


If you have consumed alcohol and then drive a vehicle, you may find yourself on a drink driving charge. For this to happen, you will have been pulled over for a breathalyser test. If you fail the test, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the law and will need the help of criminal lawyers. The penalties for drink driving – also known as DUI (Driving Under the Influence) vary from state to state and much depends on the circumstances of the individual case.

How far over the limit you were, whether you were speeding or caused an accident and even the type of vehicle you were driving are all factors that are taken into account at your trial – if it comes to a trial, that is. It may be that you are simply fined and have points taken off your driver’s licence.

As a general rule, the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream of a driver must not be more than 0.05%. However, this may vary if you are a learner driver, on P plates or if you were driving a truck. In the latter case, the amount of alcohol in the blood must be nil.

The penalties for DUI vary depending on –

  • Your age
  • The blood alcohol level (BAC)
  • Type of licence you have
  • If there are any previous DUI convictions
  • If there are any other charges such as speeding
  • The type of vehicle you were driving

As we know, in Australia police can stop any vehicle to test the driver for DUI, whether they suspect you’ve been drinking or not.

You may feel like fighting the charges of DUI, but if you’ve been tested and found to have exceeded the limit of 0.05% it has already been proven against you. Another point to consider is that the penalties are set for each offence and so the Magistrate does not have much choice in applying them, even if there are mitigating circumstances, or even if you need your licence to get to work.

That is why it is worthwhile considering the consequences of driving after drinking, when you know that getting caught will mean loss of your driver’s licence.  However, if there is doubt about the BAC level or if there are mitigating circumstances, then a lawyer should certainly be consulted to see if it is possible to get a reduction in the sentence.

In most states, a BAC of 0.08% incurs an immediate loss of licence and there is no provision for a restricted or work licence to be given. However, in Western Australia, the ACT and Queensland it may be possible to apply for an Extraordinary Drivers Licence (EDL) that can be used only for getting to work or work related driving, if the loss of it would cause great hardship.