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Drink Driving

Drink Driving Charges in NSW

Drink driving is considered a serious offence and may attract heavy fines, licence suspensions and/or jail sentences. Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers may be able to help reduce any penalties handed down by the Court. A Section 10 dismissal is possible, particularly for low or mid range PCA levels, depending on the circumstances.

PCA charges relate to the specific measurement of your blood alcohol level, via a breath test, and subsequent breath analysis, or even blood tests. Different licences set different PCAs. For regular licences, the limit is 0.05. For licences with special conditions, such as bus, truck or taxi licences, the limit is 0.02. For L-Plate or P-Plate drivers, the limit is 0.00. PCA charges are issued in direct response to breath test results.

Drink Driving Charges in NSW based on PCA include:

Mid Range PCA

Have you been charged with Mid-range PCA offences? An experienced drink driving defence lawyer can get you lighter penalties or a Section 10. Call 02 80597121.

Mid-range PCA Charges

Mid-range PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol) charges are issued after a breath test when a driver returns a blood alcohol reading of between 0.08 and 0.15. These are serious drink driving charges and can attract harsh penalties, including: a year in prison, a $3300 fine and a suspension of your licence for up to 3 years. However, in the right circumstances, Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers can have the penalties reduced in court, or even dismissed completely under Section 10.

Defending a Mid-range PCA Charge

Even if you are not seen to be “under the influence” of alcohol, the police can still charge you with Mid-range PCA offences. In these cases, an experienced Traffic Lawyer can make the difference between severe and light penalties, or even secure you a Section 10 dismissal. You will be better off with legal help, rather than representing yourself in court.

Challenge the Reading

All PCA charges arise from the police’s allegation that your blood alcohol level was above the limit set by your licence, while you were driving. But blood alcohol readings are rarely exact. Alcohol levels in your blood go up and down over time, and after an on-road breath test it takes time to go to an RBT unit or police station for breath analysis. Your blood alcohol level may have changed several times, becoming higher at the time of the test than when you first started driving.

One of your defence options is to challenge the breath test reading. This could help reduce your Mid-range PCA charge to Low-range, which carries less severe penalties, or even see it dismissed under Section 10, especially in the case of a first offence.

Other Defence Options for Mid-range PCA Charges

You could also base your defence argument on:
• An honest and reasonable mistake: When the charges relate to a blood alcohol reading of between 0.08 and 0.15, this is not easy to prove, but you may be able to argue that you believed you were still below the PCA at the time of the offence.
• The 2 hour rule: The police cannot force you to take a breath test if more than 2 hours have passed since you drove a car. If you are tested aftermore than 2 hours have passed, then that evidence may be thrown out of court.
• At home rule: The police cannot breath test you while you are on your own property. If that does happen, that evidence may be inadmissible
• Duress: You may have been threatened and forced into driving by another person, while over your PCA.
• An emergency: You may have driven while over your PCA because you were responding to an emergency situation.

What you need to show

• The circumstances of the offence: how much alcohol was drunk, over how much time, and what amount and kind of food was consumed.
• Your traffic record and good character.
• Any other matters that may be relevant, such as how a criminal record would affect you.

Penalties

Fine Imprisonment Disqualification
Automatic Minimum
First Offence
$2200 9 months 12 months 6 months
Subsequent Offences
$3300 12 months 3 years 12 months
Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm

Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm is the second most serious assault offence after Assault Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm. This offence can be charged where an injury arises out of an alleged assault that is not permanent, but results in a wounding, for example when a person’s skin is broken.

Penalties: The maximum penalty for this offence is five years imprisonment. Where the offender is in the company of another person or persons this increases to seven years.

Attempts to Choke

Generally, the charge of Attempt to Choke may be laid when the accused has either (i) attempted to choke someone, or (ii) attempted to make the person insensible, unconscious, or incapable of resistance. The offence is taken very seriously by the courts, with a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment, and legal advice should be sought immediately upon being charged.

Penalties: As indicated above, a conviction of Attempt to Choke carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment, under section 37 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Reckless Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding

The offence of Reckless Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding is generally charged when an act or omission has caused grievous bodily harm or wounding, but there was no intent. There are several different forms of this offence prescribed in section 35 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). In determining which offence to charge you with, the Police will consider whether you wounded someone and/or whether you inflicted grievous bodily harm, as well as whether you were in the company of others at the time of the offence.

Penalties: Depending on the particular offence you are charged with, the maximum penalty can range from seven years imprisonment up to 14 years imprisonment. However, with proper legal representation, it is usually possible to avoid these severe penalties.

DUI Charges

DUI charges are Drink Driving charges that are issued without a breath test or other tests, but when there is a clear suspicion that a driver is affected by alcohol. For example, the police or witnesses may notice that a driver’s speech is slurred, they are walking unsteadily, their breath smells of alcohol or the circumstances of an incident (for example, the angle of a crash) suggest that alcohol affected their driving.

PCA charges are more precise than DUI charges and may determine more severe penalties, but DUI charges can be just as serious, as they can aggravate other charges that may have been issued. For example, if a road incident has caused a death, a DUI charge may make the penalty for the offending driver much worse.

Indecent Assault

The charge of Indecent Assault may be laid when the accused has assaulted someone in a way which carries a sexual connotation, or the intention to obtain sexual gratification. The charge is different to Sexual Assault, which requires penetration.

Penalties: A charge of indecent assault carries a maximum penalty of up to five years imprisonment. There is also a more serious charge of Aggravated Sexual Assault, which carries intensified maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. The circumstances of aggravation are established when: The offence is committed in company, the victim is under the offender’s authority, the victim has a serious physical disability, or the victim has a serious intellectual disability. The elements for indecent assault need to be established first before considering these aggravating factors.

Sexual Assault

The charge of Sexual Assault may be laid when the accused has sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of the other person, and knowing that the other person does not consent to the sexual intercourse.

Penalties: The maximum possible penalty for the charge of Sexual Intercourse without Consent is 14 years imprisonment. Any person who attempts to commit a sexual assault-related offence may face the same penalties as if they actually committed the offence. However, the penalties vary depending on the gravity of the particular offence. Factors which determine the gravity include: Degree of violence, physical hurt inflicted, form of forced intercourse, degree of humiliation and duration of the offence.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

It is also possible to be charged with the more serious offence of Aggravated Sexual Assault, which carries penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment. Aggravating circumstances to a sexual assault offence include:

• At the time of, or immediately before or after the commission of the offence, the offender intentionally or recklessly inflicted actual bodily harm on the victim or any other person present or nearby
• At the time of, or immediately before or after the commission of the offence, the offender threatened to inflict actual bodily harm on the alleged victim or any other person who is present or nearby by means of an offensive weapon or instrument
• The offence was committed in the company of another person or persons
• Victim is under 16 years of age Victim is under authority of offenderVictim has a serious physical disabilityVictim has a cognitive impairment
• Offender broke and entered into dwelling-house or other building with the intention of committing the offence or any other serious indictable offence
• Offender deprived the victim of their liberty before or after the commission of the offence

Aggravated Sexual Assault in Company

It is also possible to be charged with the more serious offence of Aggravated Sexual Assault, which carries penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment. Aggravating circumstances to a sexual assault offence include:

How can Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers help?

Our Criminal Lawyers will carefully consider your case, advise you on all your legal options, and recommend the best way forward.

Call us now on 02 8059 7121 or contact us after hours on 0420 998 650 or text 24hrs to book an appointment with one of our solicitors.

The initial consultation is free.