What is High Range Drink Driving?
High Range drink driving or PCA is an offence committed when you are caught driving a vehicle on a public road and test positive to a breath test or a blood test with a prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) reading 0.150 or higher.
How serious is a High Range PCA?
In NSW, all drink driving cases are taken seriously by the Courts, as drink driving poses a serious risk of injury to members of the public.
If you are found guilty of High Range PCA, you will have a criminal conviction recorded against you.
The disqualification periods and fines that apply are harsh, and a criminal record can cause significant problems in your everyday life; it can affect your ability to work in certain jobs and to travel freely to some countries.
Will I lose my licence?
The major concern for most drivers charged with a High Range PCA offence is that they will lose their licence. Unfortunately, it is almost certain that you will lose your licence if convicted of a High Range drink driving offence.
The NSW Guideline Judgment for High Range Drink Driving is applied when sentencing High Range PCA offences. It is exceptionally rare for a Court to deal with a High Range PCA matter under 'section 10' of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act or a non-conviction Conditional Release Order.
Even a first offence of High Range drink driving can result in a custodial sentence. The decision as to whether or not a term of imprisonment will be imposed depends on several factors including the level of your blood alcohol reading, your traffic record and the circumstances at the time of the offence.
Our experienced drink driving lawyers know how to present High Range drink driving matters to the Court with a view to minimising any penalties and avoiding a term of imprisonment.
What is the NSW Guideline Judgment?
The High Range Drink Driving NSW Guideline Judgment was handed down by the higher Court of Criminal Appeal on the 8th of September 2004. The purpose of this Guideline Judgment is to provide the Court system with a general guideline of how to handle High Range drink driving matters in New South Wales.
The High Range Drink Driving NSW Guideline Judgment looks at what the ordinary case of a High Range drink driving offence is and what it involves. It also looks at what features and circumstances increase the severity of a High Range drink driving offence ultimately attracting a more severe penalty and sentence.
By using the High Range Drink Driving NSW Guideline Judgment, the Courts can assess what the circumstances and issues are surrounding the High Range drink driving offence and appropriately be guided to handing down the necessary penalties and sentences.
If you have been charged with a High Range drink driving offence in New South Wales, then you need to be aware of the NSW Guideline Judgment for High Range Drink Driving.
Read the full guideline judgement here - NSW Guideline Judgment for High Range Drink Driving.
What are the penalties for High Range drink driving?
The maximum penalty for a High Range drink driving offence, if it is your first major traffic offence within 5 years, is a fine of $3,300.00, an unlimited maximum disqualification period, an automatic disqualification period of 3 years. The minimum disqualification period a Magistrate can hand down is 12 months.
Penalties for two or more major traffic offences within 5 years
The maximum penalty for a High Range PCA offence, if it is your second or subsequent major offence within 5 years, is a fine of $5,500.00 an unlimited maximum disqualification period, an automatic disqualification period of 5 years. The minimum disqualification period a Magistrate can hand down is 2 years.
Mandatory Interlock orders of up to 48 months apply if convicted of High Range drink driving. Read more about mandatory Interlock orders here – The Alcohol Interlock Program
Can I plead “not guilty” to a High Range PCA?
Drink driving offences in New South Wales are not easy to defend because the Police use calibrated instruments and procedures to detect whether a person has alcohol present in their system which is higher than the legal limit.
There are several possible defences to a High Range drink driving offence
- Breath analysis not taken within two hours of driving. The law requires that the breath analysis occurs within 2 hours of driving.
- The law prohibits the police from demanding a breath test of a driver at their home. Home includes any part of the property.
- You were not the driver. As with any criminal offence, the police must prove it was, in fact, you who committed the offence.
We are here to help
Our solicitors specialise in Drink Driving matters and represent clients in Courts throughout the Central Coast and Hunter Regions. We have the experience and expertise to guide you through the court process from beginning to end to get you the best possible outcome.
We have achieved exceptional results for both clients facing their first offence and repeat offenders with additional charges and other aggravating factors. Our drink driving experts will put forward strong submissions to the Court which can help reduce suspension periods, minimise any fines you may face and help you avoid or minimise a gaol term.
If you have been charged with a drink driving offence, don't take risks with your future. If you need advice from a drink driving lawyer, contact one of our criminal law specialists immediately on 1300 529 444 or fill in our contact form to arrange a free conference with a solicitor today. Contact us now! 24-hour legal advice 7 days a week.
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NSW has three prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) limits: zero, under 0.02 and under 0.05. The limit that applies to you depends on the category of your licence and the type of vehicle you are driving. Your PCA measures the amount of alcohol you have in your system in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
PCA stands for "Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol". This allows the police to charge a person with drink driving as long as they have in their blood over the “Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol”, regardless of whether the person is actually under the influence of alcohol.
An alcohol interlock stops you from starting your vehicle if you have been drinking. You need to blow into the interlock every time you start your vehicle and at different times during the trip. In NSW, alcohol interlocks are fitted to vehicles of drivers who have been convicted of some drink-driving offences.
If your driver licence or learner permit is suspended, you cannot drive for a specific period of time (e.g. 3 months). When this period has finished, your licence or permit becomes valid again.
If your driver licence or learner permit is cancelled, you cannot drive for a specific period (e.g. 12 months) and you will need to apply to the Roads and Maritme Service to get your driver licence/learner permit back.
Section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 enables a court, upon a plea or finding of guilt, to order the dismissal of charges without proceeding to record a conviction. The order can be made with or without conditions.
Section 10 bonds are rarely given out for high range drink driving offences unless the circumstances are exceptional.
On 8 September 2004, the Court of Criminal Appeal handed down a guideline judgment in relation to the offence of High Range PCA (Re: Application by Attorney-General (No. 3 of 2002) (2004) 61 NSWLR 305).
The Guideline Judgment acts as a guide to lower courts when sentencing offenders charged with high-range PCA.
Although the Guideline Judgment is in relation to offenders found guilty of high-range PCA, courts often refer to the principles and comments made by the judges in the Guideline Judgment when sentencing offenders charged with low range or mid-range PCA.
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