What Qualifies As Drink or Drug Driving
Any person who is over the legal limit of alcohol or has drugs in their system and drives, attempts to put in motion or is in charge of a motor vehicle can be charged by police with drink or drug driving. This means that you do not even have to be driving, you could even be sleeping in the car and still be charged with drink or drug driving.
The offence of drink and drug driving are serious in Australia and carry equally serious penalties that include loss of licence, a conviction being recorded, a fine and possibly jail.
Laws Governing Drink & Drug Driving in Queensland
If an individual is caught driving while over the legal limit of alcohol or with drugs in their system in Queensland, he or she will be given a summons to appear in a Magistrates Court, usually the closest location to where the offence occurred. The Magistrate will hear the case and decide the penalties, in most cases a large fine, licence disqualification, alcohol interlock program and possibly a jail sentence. How severe the penalty is hinges on how high the alcohol/drug concentration was at the time of the arrest, the driver’s conduct, traffic history and what type of licence the driver held at the time, if any.
Four different alcohol limits are generally considered in Queensland. These limits include:
- The No Alcohol Limit (0.00) – Provisional, Probationary or Learner Licence holders
- General Alcohol Limit of 0.05 to 0.09
- Middle Alcohol Limit of 0.10 to 0.149
- High Alcohol Limit of over 0.15
There are two different levels of drug driving:
- Low range: Drive while relevant drug is present in blood or saliva
- High range: Drive under the influence of a drug
For further information please refer to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.
Recording of Conviction
The starting point for a Magistrate for any drink or drug driving offence is to record a conviction unless specific arguments are made in court as to why a conviction should not be recorded. The arguments made must address the elements of the law and be supported by evidence to convince a Magistrate not to record a conviction. If a conviction is recorded, this can have devastating consequences on a person’s current or future employment, visa applications, travel arrangements and insurance policies.
First-time Drink or Drug Driving Penalties
Even drivers that have never previously been convicted of a drink or drug driving offence, can still have their licence completely cancelled and face a fine up to $4,025 and a possible jail sentence of up to 9 months. The penalties that will apply will mainly depend on how high the BAC reading was at the time of the offence.
Low Range Drink or Drug Driving Penalties
Drink Driving – low range offences occur when the driver’s BAC is between 0.05 and 0.10.
Drug Driving – low range offences or drive while relevant drug is present in blood or saliva occurs when just a small trace of illicit or even certain prescription drugs are found in a driver’s saliva or blood. The driver does not need to be impaired by the drug to be charged.
The maximum licence disqualification period for low range offences is 9 months (minimum 1 month), a fine of up to $2,012.50 with a possible jail sentence of up to 3 months.
Mid Range Drink or Drug Driving Penalties
Drink Driving – mid range offences occur when the driver’s BAC level is between 0.10 and 0.149. The maximum licence disqualification period is to 12 months (minimum 3 months) a fine of $2,875 and a possible jail sentence of up to 6 months.
Drug Driving – there is no mid range for drug driving.
High Range Drink or Drug Driving Penalties
Drink Driving – high range offences occur when the driver’s BAC level is 0.15 and above which is taken very seriously.
Drug Driving – high range offences or drive under the influence of drugs occur when the level of drugs detected in a driver’s saliva or blood is considered enough to cause impairment and affect the driver’s ability to driver safely.
The maximum licence disqualification is a complete cancellation of the licence (minimum 6 months), with a fine of $4,025 and a possible jail sentence of up to 9 months.
Repeat Drink & Drug Drivers
Repeat offenders are those who have had a previous drink or drug driving offences and run a real risk of going to jail. Drivers who are repeat offenders are treated harsher than those who have only committed one offence. For repeat drink an/or drug driving offenders, the maximum licence disqualification is a complete cancellation of the licence, a fine of up to $8,625 and a possible jail sentence of up to 18 months. If the driver is a repeat offender and has a BAC of over 0.15 or if he or she fails to provide a blood, breath or saliva sample, his or her vehicle can be impounded or even confiscated permanently.
Refusing to provide a breath or saliva test
Drivers who unlawfully refuse to provide a breath or saliva test will be treated as a high range drink or drug driver and face the equivalent penalties.
Alcohol interlock program
You need to participate in the interlock program if you commit and are convicted of any of the following offences:
- drive, or attempt to put in motion or be in charge of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
- drive, or attempt to put in motion or be in charge of a vehicle with a blood/breath alcohol concentration of 0.10 or more
- failing to provide a blood/breath specimen for analysis
- dangerous driving while affected by alcohol
- 2 or more drink driving offences within the 5 years.