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Novice-range PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol) charges apply to Provisional 1 or 2 (P-Plates) and Learning licence (L-Plates) drivers who are breath tested by police and found that their level of Blood Alcohol Content (BCA) is between 0.00 and 0.02 grams of alcohol for every 100mls of blood. BAC can be measured by breath, blood, or urine. Drivers in the Novice class are subject to a zero-alcohol limit while driving restricting them from drinking alcohol while operating a vehicle.


If you are charged with a Novice-range PCA offence, then you have booked yourself a visit to court. Stern penalties can be imposed, including a fine of $2,200 and a disqualification licence for up to 12-months in a subsequent offence within five years. However, Sydney drink driving lawyers may help to dismiss the charges under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act, which means you don’t get fined nor lose your licence.


Novice-range PCA: Defending the Charge

If you are charged by with a Novice-range PCA offence, you need an experienced traffic lawyer by your side.  Sydney Traffic Lawyers will present your case to the Court as a defended matter or mitigate the penalty by arguing your plea of guilty. So, you can either beat the charges or be dealt with leniently after pleading guilty. On the other hand, cases where offenders appear self-represented generally don’t fare so well.


Challenge the Breath-test Results

If police charge you with a Novice-range PCA offence, the crime you have allegedly committed is: driving with blood alcohol level above the specified limit (which is zero in this case). However, reading blood alcohol levels is not an exact science, and the levels may fluctuate over time. Considerable time passes from the initial Random Breath Test (RBT) and being tested on a more precise device at the police station. There are chances that alcohol level in your blood may have been 0.00 while you began driving and just before breath test might have risen to 0.02.


You have the right to challenge the results of your breath-test, but generally speaking, the equipment police use and the processes they apply are usually watertight. Usually, an offender pleads guilty in such instances and has their Traffic Lawyer argue for reduced penalties or the dismissal of charges under section 10, a result is more common among first-time offenders.

Some more defence options for PCA charges of Novice-range

There are several arguments which can form a defence if you chose to challenge the reading:

  • A reasonable and honest mistake: It is not easy to prove this, but you can argue that you made an honest and reasonable mistake which led to the blood alcohol level in your body being above 0.00 during the time of the offence. For example, you could argue the use of medication or alcohol based mouthwash prior to the breathalyser test.
  • The 2-hour rule: You cannot be directed by police to take a breath test after 2 hours of operating a vehicle. In case you are tested but not driving for 2 hours, that evidence can be argued out of court.
  • At home rule: You cannot be breath-tested by police when you are at home (including your driveway). If tested in those circumstances, the evidence will be inadmissible.
  • Necessity: You might have driven over PCA because you had to respond, or faced an emergency situation.
  • Duress: The offence might be committed because someone else threatened and forced you to do so.


What you should show

  • Your subjective circumstances: During which time-frame, what food was consumed and what was the quantity of alcohol consumed.
  • Your good character and traffic record.
  • Other important considerations, such as how a criminal record or disqualified licence will affect your life and the lives of family members who rely on your licence to drive.

Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers is a law firm that specialises in Criminal and Traffic Law. Our passionate and dedicated team of expert lawyers represent clients daily in the Local, District, and Supreme Courts of NSW.


02 8059 7121