DUI – has it happened to you?

Insight Legal: driving under the influence of alcohol

Statistics show that in NSW driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol plays a part in one in every seven crashes that involve a death. We can all agree that’s a sobering statistic and yet reports are also showing a current decade-high spike in drivers caught drinking and driving.  

So what are the consequences of being caught drink-driving and what are your options if this happened to you over the summer?

Really it depends on where your offence sits in the scale of drink-driving:

  • Low range → a breathalyser reading revealing a blood alcohol concentration between 0.05 and 0.08 
  • Middle range → from 0.08 to 0.15
  • High range → greater than 0.15

Since May 2019 the handling of low-range DUI offences has become swift and simple. First-timer DUI offenders are dealt an immediate, 3-month licence disqualification and a $587 fine.

Over the past five years electronic breath testing devices connected to the ignition system of a car, referred to as an alcohol interlock device, have become the norm for drivers convicted of high-range, repeated and serious DUI offences.  And the interlock program is being applied to mid-range drink-driving offenders too.  

The interlock device requires a breath sample from the driver and prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected. The system includes a camera and takes a photo of the driver providing the breath sample to avoid cheating.

Importantly the interlock program is always applied to drivers for a minimum of 12 months and starts after a licence disqualification period imposed by the court.

Random breath-testing and serious sentencing laws for those caught DUI are rightfully aimed at making the roads safer for all of us, but the harsh reality is that any DUI sentence can have a life-changing impact on a driver and their family.  This is particularly true in regional centres like the Shoalhaven as opposed to city environments – public transport is not as readily available outside the cities and not having a licence can have a bigger impact on an individual’s ability to hold a job.

This is when legal advice becomes invaluable in dealing with a drink-driving offence.  Having professionals on your side to guide you through a licence suspension appeal or court case can make the difference in getting the best outcome possible in your circumstance.  

When ruling on penalties and driving disqualifications, the court investigates mitigating circumstances in making its ruling.  Things that are examined include:

  • whether the offence came about as a result of a random breath test or because of dangerous driving
  • driving history and likelihood of reoffending
  • the impact of the court ruling on dependents and availability of public transport
  • if a collision occurred

Get in contact if you or a loved one needs advice dealing with a DUI conviction and remember, although not ideal, and as painful as it feels … being caught drink-driving is a much better option than becoming one of the statistics!