Queensland is renowned for its stringent drink driving charge, aimed at promoting road safety. While most people associate drink driving offences with being caught behind the wheel while intoxicated, there are surprising ways one can still face charges even without being in control of a vehicle. In this article, we’ll explore these scenarios and shed light on how you can be charged with drink driving in Queensland without physically driving.

“In Charge” Offence:

Under Queensland law, you can be charged with drink driving if you are found “in charge” of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. This means that even if you are not actively driving, if you are in control of the vehicle, have the keys in your possession, and are intoxicated, you may be charged.

Scenario: Imagine you decided to sleep it off in your parked car after a night out, with the intention of driving when you’re sober. If an officer comes across you in the driver’s seat, keys nearby, and you have a high blood alcohol concentration, you could be charged.

For more information please see section 79(1)(c) of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act.

“Attempt” to Drive:

Queensland law extends to individuals who are deemed to have attempted to drive whilst under the influence of alcohol. This can result in charges even if you didn’t actually drive or turn on the engine. The assessment is based on your actions and circumstances at the time.

Scenario: Let’s say you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, fumbling with the ignition, and confess to the police that you were about to drive but changed your mind due to intoxication. You may still face charges.

For more information please see section 79(1)(b) of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act.

Breath Testing at home after driving:

Queensland police can still breathalyse a person even if that person is no longer driving as long as the breath test is conducted within 3 hours of driving or being in charge of the vehicle.

Scenario: Suppose you have decided to drive home from the pub after a few beers, an hour later police turn up to your house and an officer asks you to take a breath test. If the result is above the legal limit, you may be charged.

Refusing a Breath Test:

Refusing to take a breath test when asked by police, whether you were driving or not, can result in charges and legal consequences.

Scenario: You’re in a parked car, keys on the dashboard, and an officer requests a breath test. If you refuse to comply, you could be charged for failing to provide a specimen of breath and will face the same penalties as a high range drink driver.

For more information please see section 80 (5A) of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act.

Drink Driving Charge Defences 

Drink driving charges are not always straight forward and it may be possible to defend the charge or have the charge dropped. It is worthwhile talking to a lawyer to explain the circumstances of your alleged offending and find out if you have a valid legal defence. There may be scope to have the charge dropped depending on the actions of the police and whether there is enough evidence to prove the charge against you.


Queensland’s drink driving laws are comprehensive and stringent, aiming to keep the roads safe for all. Understanding the broader scope of these laws is essential to avoid unintentional infractions. Remember that it’s not only being behind the wheel that can lead to charges; your actions, intentions, and level of intoxication play crucial roles in determining whether you might be charged with drink driving. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s essential to consult with a legal professional to navigate the legal process effectively and protect your rights. Find out if you are eligible for a work licence.



Our leading lawyer, Ryan Roche is available 24/7 on 07 3188 1767 or 0402 843 177.