Williams barristers and solicitors  |  90 George street, Thebarton SA 5031  |   (08) 8451 9040  |  Email Us

Don’t spoil your holiday season with a drink or drug driving charge

Drink driving, drug driving

During the holiday season we are all looking forward to eating, drinking and being merry.

This means of course that the chances of drink driving and perhaps drug driving are higher at this time of year.  Not only does it increase the risk of arrest or serious charges, but it increases the potential for accident and injury from other drivers.

How can you avoid a serious charge or even worse causing a serious accident?

  1. Make Sure You Have a Plan if You Intend to Drink.

Cleary not driving if you are drinking is the safest way. If you intend to drink with friends or family, make sure you nominate someone as the designated driver so that you can enjoy your time together and get home safely.

  1. Know the Law in Relation to Drink Driving Offences and Penalties

PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol)

It is an offence to drive or attempt to put a vehicle in motion whilst you have a blood alcohol level 0.05 or above for those on their full licence and 0.00 for Learners of Provisional licence holders. It is not relevant to a PCA offence that you don’t feel affected by alcohol nor do you have to intend to have committed the offence.

Significant fines and mandatory licence disqualifications apply for PCA offences.

If you are charged with a PCA offence or drug driving offence, you have the right to obtain your own blood sample for testing. This should be done immediately after you complete the police test. If you don’t obtain a blood sample, you cannot challenge the police reading.

We have experience of some clients waiting several hours in the hospital emergency departments for a sample to be taken only to find that it was too late to get a reading. It is your responsibility to obtain the blood sample and we suggest that if you attend a hospital with long wait time that you arrange for a sample to be taken elsewhere.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or drugs)

It is an offence to drive a vehicle or attempt to put a vehicle in motion whilst so much under the influence of alcohol or drugs that you are incapable of exercising effective control of vehicle.

In alcohol related matters, you may be found guilty of DUI even if your blood alcohol is below 0.05. An offence is committed when your physical or mental faculty is lost or appreciable impaired.

Fines, disqualifications or sentences of imprisonment apply should you be found guilty of a DUI offence.

Refuse Breath Test

Refusing to comply with a reasonable direction by police to submit to an alcotest or breath analysis is a serious offence. Should you fail to comply, the same penalties apply that would apply to someone that has committed a high range PCA offence.

Penalties for refuse breath test included, fines, licence disqualification and after completing the disqualification period, being required to have an alcohol interlock device fitted to your vehicle for a period equal to the time spent on disqualification.

Given the above, it is important to know when Police are able to give you a lawful direction to submit to an alcotest or breath analysis. Police may direct you to submit to a test if that officer suspects that you:-

  1. A) are driving, or have driven a motor vehicle; or
  2. B) are attempting or have attempted to put a motor vehicle in motion; or
  3. C) are acting or have acted as a qualified supervising driving for the holder of a permit or licence.

It is a defence to Refuse Breath Test if the direction was not lawfully made or you were not allowed the opportunity to comply with the direction after being given the prescribed advice or if there is otherwise good cause for the refusal or failure.

If the good cause for refusal or failure was due to a physical or medical condition, a sample of blood must be taken before any medical evidence in support of your defence can be relied upon.

Drug Driving Offences and Penalties

Driving with a prescribed drug (cannabis, Methamphetamine or MDMA) in oral fluid or blood is an offence that carries with it a significant fine and licence disqualification. To be found guilty of drug driving you do not need be affected or impaired all that is required is for traces of a prescribed drug to be found in your system. We have had many clients charged with drug driving where they have admitted to taking the drug several days before driving so it is important to know that drugs remain detectable for a long time after they are consumed.

  1. What Do I Do if Charged With a Drink or Drug Driving Offence

We recommend that you contact us on 84519040 as a matter of urgency and preferably before you speak to the police.

When dealing with Police it is important that you know your rights. There are some questions that you are legally obliged to answer and there are others which you are not. We advise that you only answer the questions you are obliged to and make no comment in respect to anything else.

Generally speaking, police are able to ask you questions to identify who you are and where you live if they suspect that you have committed an offence. Police are also able to ask questions to identify the driver of a vehicle at a particular time or place. It is an offence to refuse to answer questions that you are legally obliged to.

You do not have to answer questions like ‘how much have you had to drink?’, ‘how fast were you going?’ or any other question which is not designed to identify you or the driver of a vehicle. We strongly recommend that you politely advise police that you will not be answering any questions.

If you are in doubt about which questions you have to answer, we recommend that you ask the police officer ‘am I legally obliged to answer that question?’ if they say yes, you answer it, If they say no, you don’t answer.


If you need our help please call on 84519040.  You can also call us 24/7 if you are arrested and need urgent assistance.

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Williams Lawyers Adelaide

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