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. A criminal record can cause significant problems in your everyday life; it can affect your ability to work in certain jobs and 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 higher Court of Criminal Appeal handed down the High Range Drink Driving NSW Guideline Judgment 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 the ordinary case of a High Range drink driving offence 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 the circumstances and issues 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, 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?
If it is your first major traffic offence within 5 years, the maximum penalty for a High Range drink driving offence is a fine of $3,300.00, an unlimited maximum disqualification period, and 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
If it is your second or subsequent major offence within 5 years, the maximum penalty for a High Range PCA offence is a fine of $5,500.00, an unlimited maximum disqualification period, and 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, higher than the legal limit.
There are several possible defences to a High Range drink driving offence
- Breath analysis is 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 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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Very Helpful, Very Organized approach in defending you in court, Fourtree Lawyers are the company to chose if you want all the confusion and stress to be explained to you and for you in regard to facing court, these people are the Answer.
I’d like to thank Kevin and Jane for meeting me on the weekend and saving me a trip to the central coast (without a licence). I’d also like to thank Paul Popescu for doing a fantastic job representing me on a serious driving charge, he gave me clear instructions on what I needed to do and he was spot on, I received the best possible sentence. I would highly recommend Fourtree Lawyers, they travel all over NSW.
We found Fourtree Lawyers on Google after hours. I called on a Sunday and got some good advice. So went in to meet Kevin on the Monday. The outcome was a section 10(1)(b). We were so pleased and relieved. Thank so much to Kevin and Jane!! Would definitely recommend Fourtree Lawyers! Worth every cent! – JM Terrigal
I was recommend to Fourtree Lawyers from a friend whom also experienced a serious driving infringement. My situation was slightly more serious, being charged with drive while suspended, shared with a reasonably extensive driving record, meant my chances of driving home were minimal. Kevin’s realistic and knowledgeable approach not only prepared & educated me upon all possible verdicts, but also supported me with all possible optimistic outcomes. Kevin’s extensive knowledge of the legal system, combined with the understanding of the Judges expectations, and vast life experience resulted with an outstanding result,...
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.
High-range PCA | CRO with conviction | Muswellbrook Local Court
Our client is a 23-year-old female who lives in the Hunter Valley.
The police stopped our client at Muswellbrook for the purpose of a roadside random breath test which returned a positive result. She was arrested and taken to Muswellbrook Police Station for the purpose of a breath analysis. The analysis returned with a high range reading of 0.151 grams of alcohol per 210 litres of breath.
Our client’s driver’s licence was immediately suspended, and she was charged with ‘Drive with high-range PCA (first offence)’ under section 110(5)(a) of the Road Transport Act 2013. The maximum penalty under this offence is 18 months of imprisonment and/or a fine of $3,300, with an automatic licence disqualification of 3 years.
Solicitor Erin Nulty attended the Muswellbrook Local Court on the client’s behalf and made submissions to best mitigate the sentence. The submission was also accompanied by the client’s letter of apology and other references and the Certificate of Participation at Traffic Offenders Intervention Program. The Magistrate took into account our client’s guilty plea and her genuine remorse and sentenced her to a Conditional Release Order (with conviction) for a period of 18 months, no fine and the minimum disqualification period of 6 months and the minimum mandatory interlock period.
Our client was very satisfied with the result we have obtained for her.
High-range PCA | CCO with minimum disqualification | Newcastle Local Court
Our client is a 29-year-old male that resides in the Central Coast Region. He is a metalworker tradesman that travels to various locations throughout NSW.
Our Client had been working in Tamworth when he had finished for the week and was making his way back to the Central Coast area. He began to drink long neck beers whilst driving. He was observed by an unmarked police car swerving in and out of his lane of traffic. The police pulled him over and observed that he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.
They submitted our client to a roadside breath test which recorded a positive result.
He was taken back to the Police Station and recorded a reading of 0.175. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $3,300.
Our solicitor Denise McCarthy attended Newcastle Local Court on behalf of our client. He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and completed the Traffic Offenders Program before his court date. His Honour saw fit to place our client on a CCO with minimum disqualification and minimum interlock period.
Our client was “stoked” that he only received the minimum disqualification period so that it won’t affect his work in the long run.
Drive with High Range PCA | ICO (24m) | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 38-year-old father of three who is a primary carer to his disabled mother.
Our client was stopped for exceeding the speed limit and subsequently subjected to a roadside breath test, during which he returned a high range reading.
Our client requires a drivers license to attend to his parenting and carer responsibilities. However, an aggravating factor was that this was his third drink driving offence, and he had a passenger in the car with him at the time.
The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $3,300 and/or imprisonment for 18 months. There is a minimum license disqualification period of 12 months and a maximum disqualification period of 3 years. There is also a minimum interlock period of 24 months.
Senior Solicitor Denise McCarthy attended Gosford Local Court. Submissions were made on our client’s behalf, supported by several character references, a letter of apology, and medical records. After hearing the submissions, the Court saw fit to impose a term of imprisonment of 2 years to be served by intensive correction in the community. The Court also reduced the license disqualification period to 9 months and further ordered the minimum mandatory interlock order for a period of 24 months. No fine was imposed.
Our client was very relieved to avoid a term of imprisonment and to have his license disqualification period reduced to 9 months.
High Range PCA | Conditional Release Order with Conviction | Gosford Local Court | 22/1/2019
Our client is a 64-year-old male who has two adult children. He is divorced from his wife and is currently on a disability pension.
Our client was stopped for a random breath test on New Year's Eve. He returned a High Range reading of 0.298 after producing several insufficient samples.
Our client came to see us the day before going to court when a concerned family member realised what had happened. Our client was convinced that he would be sentenced to a term of imprisonment as he had a history showing several previous drink driving offences on his record.
The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $3,300 or imprisonment for 18 months or both. There is a minimum disqualification period of 12 months and an automatic disqualification period of 3 years. The court has some discretion to reduce the disqualification period if an interlock device is fitted to the vehicle. There is a minimum interlock period of 24 months.
Principal Solicitor Kevin Vierboom attended Gosford Local Court and made strenuous submissions in mitigation of the penalty. Our client was sentenced to a Conditional Release Order for 18 months with no additional orders, a minimum 6-month driving disqualification, and a 24-month interlock licence.
The avoidance of a fine or custodial sentence was an exceptional result. Our client and his family were relieved beyond words.
District Court Appeal | Disqualification reduced to minimum | Newcastle District Court
Our client is a 27-year-old male with no children. He is employed in the mines and lives in the Hunter Valley Region.
Our client was convicted of High-range PCA and due to his previous history of drink driving, he received the maximum disqualification period. Fourtree Lawyers lodged an appeal to the District Court on the basis that the penalty was too severe.
Our solicitor made submissions that although it is a serious offence, he had only driven 2kms, it was late at night and the traffic was light. She also drew attention that our client has better prospects to rehabilitate because he has a good job and support network. The prosecution agreed with our solicitor and consented to the reduction of the disqualification period.
After taking all of the above into consideration, the Judge saw fit to reduce our client’s disqualification from the maximum to the minimum.
Our client was very happy with the result as it was exactly what he was trying to get.
Let me kick off by saying, putting words to the job FOURTREE has done with my case can only cheapen it, there are no words that can give the support and outcome of my case Justice. From my first contact with Jane Hogan through to the professional handling of my case by Denise McCarthy, I was put at ease and peace knowing it was all in the right hands. Thank you so very much FOURTREE, I am so very STOKED on the outcome that the team there provided me.