In 2012, a record number of 15,000 drivers were caught drink driving on Western Australian roads.
Drink driving (also known as driving under the influence) occurs when someone is in the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle and drives or attempts to drive whilst under the influence of alcohol above the allowed blood alcohol level.
The amount of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream can generally not exceed the amount of 0.05%. However, this may be different if the driver is a learner driver, probationary driver, taxi driver or a truck driver where the allowable limit may be zero. Police can use booze buses and random breath tests to determine whether a driver is drink driving. Unlike other areas of law, the police do not need to have reasonable suspicion to breath test a driver.
If you are charged with drink driving, the first thing to do is consider whether or not you are guilty or not guilty. Some of the issues that are relevant as to whether you are guilty or not are:
1. Whether you were the driver of the vehicle;
2. Whether you were driving on a road or other place to which the public had access.
If you are convicted of drink driving there are minimum penalties which are imposed by a Magistrate. The legislation does not provide any discretion for the Magistrate to vary his or her sentence below the minimum penalty imposed by the legislation.
The penalties of drink driving are largely dependent on factors such as:
1. Your previous drink driving convictions;
2. Your level of blood alcohol content;
3. The type of licence you hold;
4. The type of vehicle you are driving; and
5. Whether there are any other offences committed with the drink driving.
The penalty for drink driving is usually a monetary fine and a period of licence disqualification. The higher your blood alcohol reading, the higher penalty for the offence. A licence disqualification means that you are not allowed to drive for the period specified by the court.
If you are charged with drink driving, you should seek legal advice in relation to the penalties of the offence and whether you should plead guilty or not guilty to the charge. A lawyer can assist you in relation to preparing a plea in mitigation to ensure you receive the minimum sentence, advise you on the range of penalties and advise you on any potential defences you may have.
Should you ever require any legal advice in relation to driving offences, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly members of staff.
About the authors:
This article has been co-authored by Ryan Ashoorian, lawyer, and Steven Brown, director at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Ryan is an experienced lawyer in the areas of criminal law and probate & Wills. Steven has over 18 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in commercial law, business law and estate planning.