Drink and drive - And then you get Caught...

Posted on 05 August 2011

You’ve been pulled over, breath tested and you have failed the breath test. You’ve blown over the limit? So what next?

The officer should advise you that you have been arrested for the purpose of performing a breath analysis at the police station. You will be taken to the closest Police station and required to give a breath analysis. The Officer should then provide you with a document specifying the alcohol concentration and the day and time of day the breath analysis was completed. If the statement shows that your blood alcohol concentration is above the legal amount allowed for (according to your licence) then the arresting officer should inform you what offence you have been charged with.

Before you leave the police station you should be provided with documentation which clearly states the details of the matter - this could include a Bail Notice, a Facts Sheet and/or a Court Attendance Notice.

The five most common charges are: 

  • High Range Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA);
  • Mid Range PCA;
  • Low Range PCA;
  • Special Range PCA; and
  • Novice Range PCA. 

If you refuse the breath test or breath analysis you will be charged with a High Range PCA offence (even if your reading may have been less).

When dealing with PCA offences the courts generally impose two types of penalties. These include firstly a period of disqualification from driving and then secondly a combination of a penalty such as a fine, and/or a good behavior bond, and/or community service or imprisonment. The penalties escalate if it is your second or subsequent offence.


The size of the fine is dependant upon the charge and your subjective circumstances. This may be reduced at the court’s discretion.

Automatic Disqualification Period

This is the period of time you will automatically be disqualified from driving unless you give the court a good reason to reduce the period. This period may be increased or decreased at the court’s discretion.

Minimum Disqualification Period

This is the shortest period of disqualification the court must impose if you have a conviction recorded against you.

Maximum Term of Imprisonment

This is the maximum period of time you can be imprisoned for the particular offence. Increasing Magistrates are resorting to imprisoning people for repeated driving offences, most particularly PCA offences

Fines and the disqualification period for alcohol related driving offences are increased if you have been convicted of a major offence over the previous five years. A major offence will count even if you were previously dealt with by the court under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

If you are disqualified do not even think of driving whilst disqualified / cancelled / suspended – if it is your first offence within the past five years, a fine of $3300 will apply for each offence. Each offence carries a mandatory minimum licence disqualification period of 12 months. At the court’s discretion, a maximum period of imprisonment of 18 months for each offence also may apply. If you have been previously convicted of the same offence or another major offence in the past five years, a fine of $5500 is ordered and a mandatory minimum licence disqualification period of two years applies. At the court’s discretion, an additional period of disqualification may be imposed. There is a maximum period of imprisonment of two years.

If you find yourself in the position of having to go to court to answer any form of criminal charges, call a lawyer with plenty of time before the court date.

A Lawyer can you deal with the charge and minimize the impact of the situation on you and your family. Statistics clearly show that you are more likely to get a better result if you were represented by a lawyer.  Do you need to talk to someone about a PCA issue? Contact our friendly team.