As the sun comes out, the days start getting longer and the weather warms up, it is engraved in the Australian way of life for mates to get together at the beach, in the pool, around barbeque or at a bar for some good food, good times and a few drinks.  A good Aussie day out involves a lot of planning, like where are we going, what are we eating, who is getting the bags of ice and the drinks and what time are we getting there, but there is often one thing over looked, with that one thing often being the most important decisions needing to be made, how are we getting home?

With alcohol being a factor in 32% of road fatalities in 2016 and with a total of 143 people losing their lives on our roads in 2016 alone, if those 32% had made the right decision the lives of 46 people could have been saved but sadly people continue to drink and drive which has a devastating effect on the community and the families of those who lose a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver.

It is common for people to think that they are okay to drive just because they feel okay but just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you are.  Drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) of 0.05 are twice as likely to be in a car accident compared to when they are sober and drivers with a BAC of 0.08 are seven times more likely to be involved in an accident.

When working out how much alcohol to drink in order to stay under 0.05 people often attempt to use old methods of calculating standard drinks per hour before getting in the car and hoping for the best.  This method is fraught with danger given that there are so many factors involved that effect your BAC.  These factors include your body mass, whether you have eaten, your fitness level and the health of your liver.  The only sure fire way not to be over 0.05 is to not drink or to not drive.

Another option is to have a designated driver, catch public transport or get a family member or friend to pick you up when it is time to go.  Given ridesharing services such as Uber and Shofer are so easily accessible, safe and affordable, it makes absolutely no sense to drive home when you have been drinking.

If you really want to make your night special, organise to spend the evening out in a hotel or crash at a mate’s house.  There are plenty of options available that don’t end up with you driving on the road and putting yourself and other motorists at risk because you didn’t properly plan on getting home.

Now if you do decide to risk it, make sure you are aware of the consequences for getting caught because they may just deter you from getting behind the wheel.  The first thing that you need to expect is to say goodbye to your license with first offenders losing their license for up to ten months and repeat offenders losing their license for life and with Extraordinary licenses being harder to obtain than most people think, don’t expect to be getting back on the road in a hurry.

You are also likely to end up with a hefty fine ranging up to $5,000.00 and if that isn’t worrisome enough you could find yourself behind bars for up to 18 months.  These penalties also do not include the stress, embarrassment and shame often felt by people going through the Court system knowing that they could potentially receive a prison sentence for driving under the influence.

The consequences for driving whilst under the influence continue after the fine and suspension period are over as well with alcohol interlocks being fitted on offender’s cars once they get their license back at their own expense.  It is very important to keep all of this in mind when making plans and deciding on how to safely get home and if you make the right choices you can avoid doing something silly over the Christmas season.

If you need any advice in relation to traffic or drink driving offences please do not hesitate to contact Lynn & Brown Lawyers for further advice.


About the authors:

This article has been co-authored by Aaron Plenderleith and Steven Brown at Lynn & Brown Lawyers.  Aaron is a Perth lawyer and practices in the areas of criminal law, commercial and Wills and Estates.  Steven is a Perth lawyer and director, and has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in commercial law, dispute resolution and estate planning.


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