Had some drinks and then gotten behind the wheel?
As unlikely as it sounds, being caught drink driving by failing a test, at an RBT or being pulled over, may just be a best-case scenario in this situation. Ultimately you will be charged and face fines, license suspension and maybe even jail time, but at least you won’t have damaged property or even worse harmed anybody. If you have an accident, things can turn out far worse.
So, what happens if you are involved in an accident after drinking?
Well, firstly, the same penalties apply to you as if you had failed a breath test. These penalties are based on the Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA). Essentially this means the severity of the penalty is determined by your blood alcohol concentration. PCA is divided into low-range, mid-range, and high-range. Low-range is for blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to less than 0.08, mid-range concentration is 0.08 to less than 0.15 and high-range blood alcohol concentration over 0.15 or for those who refuse to provide a sample.
Low-range PCA result in maximum fines of $1100 for a first offense, or $2200 for a second or subsequent offense. Licence disqualification of three to six months is automatic or for up to twelve months second or subsequent offenses.
Mid-range PCA is more serious, with maximum fines of $2200 for a first offense, or $3300 for a second or subsequent offense. The automatic license disqualification increases to six to twelve months or twelve months to three years for second or subsequent offenses. Additionally, a mid-range PCA carries a jail sentence, with a maximum of nine months for a first offense or twelve months for a second or subsequent offense.
High-range PCA carries the most severe penalties, with maximum fines of $3300 for a first offense, or $5500 for a second or subsequent offense. Automatic disqualification of your license is for twelve months for three years for a first offense two to five years for second or subsequent offenses. The jail sentence increases to eighteen months for a first offense or two years for a second or subsequent offense.
Dangerous Driving Charges
In addition to PCA charges, if your drink driving has resulted in an accident, you may face other charges such as dangerous driving charges. If your accident injured another driver or pedestrian, then you can face dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm charges which carry a maximum jail sentence of seven years, however, if your blood alcohol concentration is above 0.15 it can be increased to eleven years. If your accident kills someone you can be charged with Dangerous driving occasioning death, which carries a maximum jail sentence of ten years, which increases to fourteen years when blood alcohol concentration is exceeded. The sentence will be determined by the magistrate when you appear in court.
Regardless of whether the charges are PCA, dangerous driving or more serious, they are criminal charges. Criminal law can be overwhelming, with the procedures and language used in the process. For the best outcome related to your charges, seeking legal representation is imperative. The right solicitor can review your charges and ensure all alcohol testing and other procedures were carried out correctly by police. They will also present the best case to give a favorable result.
The solicitors at CM Lawyers not only have the skills to research your case and represent you professionally, they are familiar with the local courts where criminal proceedings are held, allowing them to better strategize for your case. If you have had an accident while drink driving, get in touch with our Criminal Law team.