It’s just a drink driving offence, I can’t go to jail. Can I?

Close up of beer glass with frothMost motorists pleading guilty to their first drink driving charge will receive a fine and a loss of their licence.  It is however open for the Magistrate to impose an actual period of imprisonment, especially where it is a repeat drink driving charge.

For some drink driving offences, the law says that the court must impose, as the whole or part of the punishment, imprisonment.

Sentence

When you enter a plea of guilty to a traffic matter the Magistrate must decide, not only the length of your disqualification, but also whether you will be fined, given a community based order or sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

The Court will look at various factors including:

  1. your reading at the time of the offence;
  2. the circumstances surrounding the offence; and
  3. your criminal and traffic history.

First time drink driving penalties

For a first time drink driver the maximum penalties are:

BACLicence DisqualificationMaximum fineMaximum Imprisonment
0.0%3 to 9 months$1,7063 Months
0.05 and over, under 0.101 to 9 months$1,7063 Months
0.10 and over, under 0.153 to 12 months$2,4386 Months
0.15 and over, Minimum of 6 months$3,4139 Months

Read more about BAC limits in our previous blog post.

Repeat Drink Driving Charge

Imprisonment becomes an option where the court is sentencing you for a repeat drink driving charge.  Repeat drink drivers face higher penalties than first time drink drivers.  In addition to the power to impose a period of imprisonment the court can also:

  1. Have your car impounded (if you refuse to provide a specimen of breath or blow over 0.15%;  Read more about impoundment powers here.
  2. Disqualify your licence for up to two years;

What is a Repeat Drink Driver?

A repeat drink driver is a person who has been sentenced for an offence outlined above within the last 5 years.  The Court will look at the totality of your traffic history in deciding which penalty to apply, however the legislation defines a repeat drink driver as a person convicted within the last five years.

What should I do if I am a repeat drink driver?

If you are intending to enter a plea of guilty to a repeat drink driving offence you should consider your reading, the circumstances of the offence and your traffic history.  If you are concerned that you might be facing a period of imprisonment you should contact a traffic lawyer for advice.

A program such as the Queensland Traffic Offenders Program will assist you to demonstrate rehabilitation.

More Drink Driving Articles

Disclaimer

This website contains general information about legal matters.  The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.  You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional legal services provider.  You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information on this website.

For specific legal advice you should immediately contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers on (07) 5580 0120.

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