What is Low Range Drink Driving?
Low 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 between 0.050 and 0.079.
How serious is a Low Range PCA?
In NSW, all drink driving cases are taken seriously, because drink driving poses a serious risk of injury to members of the public.
Low Range PCA offences now attract immediate licence suspension periods of 3 months and an on-the-spot fine of $561 may also be imposed. If you are found guilty of Low Range Drink Driving in Court a criminal record will be imposed which 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.
If you are a first-time offender, however, getting legal advice from an experienced traffic lawyer will ensure that you get the best possible outcome.
Will I lose my licence?
The major concern for most drivers charged with a Low Range PCA offence is that they will lose their licence. From 20 May 2019, if you are charged with Low Range Drink Driving, NSW Police can immediately suspend your driver's licence.
If you are facing a first offence for Low Range Drink Driving, your licence can now be suspended for 3 months. If you receive an immediate licence suspension, you are required to hand your licence to Police and are not permitted to drive.
If you have received a penalty notice and an immediate suspension for a Low Range Drink Driving offence, the current fact sheet from the Roads & Maritime Services indicates that you can elect to have your matter determined in Court and appeal your licence suspension.
For offences, before 20 May 2019, it is possible to obtain a Conditional Release Order with no conviction or a Section 10 which means that you will not be disqualified from driving, not be fined and you will be able to keep your licence.
Our experienced drink driving lawyers know how to present Low Range Drink Driving matters in a way that gives you the best chance of retaining your licence.
What are the penalties for Low Range PCA?
From 20 May 2019, drivers who test positive Low Range Drink Driving, if it is your first offence face an immediate 3-month licence suspension and an on-the-spot fine of $561. (subject to change)
If you were convicted before 20 May 2019, the maximum penalty for a Low Range drink driving offence, if it is your first major traffic offence within 5 years, is a fine of $1,100.00 an automatic disqualification period of 6 months. The minimum disqualification period a Magistrate can hand down is 3 months
Penalties for two or more major traffic offences within 5 years
The maximum penalty for a Low Range drink driving offence, if it is your second or subsequent major offence within 5 years, is a fine of $2,200.00 a maximum disqualification period of 12 months. The minimum disqualification period a Magistrate can hand down is 6 months.
Where a second or subsequent offence of this nature occurs within 5 years, then a mandatory minimum period of 12 months using an interlock device will be imposed.
However, if the Magistrate can be persuaded to deal with the matter pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, or by way of a Conditional Release Order without conviction, you will not be disqualified from driving and will avoid a criminal record.
Can I plead “not guilty” to a Low Range PCA?
There are several possible defences to a Low 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.
If a Conditional Release Order without conviction or a Section 10 is not possible, our drink driving experts 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.
More reading -
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,...
Our client is a 31-year-old male who lives with his wife and child on the Central Coast. He works as a salesperson and is required to drive a vehicle for work.
On the day of the offence, our client had consumed 2 long neck beers and went out to put petrol in his car for the following day. On his route, Police caught him travelling at 85km/h in a 60km/h zone. He was pulled over and breathalysed which returned a positive reading of 0.074 grammes of alcohol in 210 litres of breath. Our client was charged with driving with a low range PCA.
Principal Solicitor Kevin Vierboom made submissions that our client's licence was crucial to his employment and that his daughter relies on him heavily for transport as his wife is often away for weeks at a time for work. Having considered our client’s individual circumstances, his previously unblemished record and the positive character references, the Magistrate dealt with our client by a 12-month Conditional Release Order, without conviction.
Our client’s primary interest was to retain his licence, since losing it would have seen him lose his job and make managing his daughter difficult. He was very happy with the outcome.
CRO – no conviction | Low Range PCA | Wyong Local Court
Our client is a 38-year-old male who lives with his wife and 2 children on the Central Coast. He teaches in a local high school.
On the day of offending our client had lunch with friends from overseas. He had not any food since breakfast. His friend bought a round of full-strength beers, of which our client had one. Our client usually drinks mid-strength beer and did notice the difference in beers strength. On driving home our client was stopped for a breath test which tested positive. Our client was conveyed to Gosford Police Station where he was charged with Low Range PCA.
Solicitor Denise McCarthy attended Court and made submissions in mitigation, focusing on our client’s active involvement with coaching a Central Coast sporting team, our client's clean criminal history, prior good character and the need for a licence to assist family members. The Magistrate imposed an 18-month conditional release order, without conviction.
This was a great result as our client was able to retain his licence and avoid a criminal record.
Low Range PCA – Annulment Application upheld & 2-year CRO| Low Range PCA | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 48-year old male who lives in Narara and is a self-employed Electrician.
Our client was pulled over by Police and charged with Low Range PCA after testing positive to a random breath test. Our client missed his Court date for this offence and was convicted in his absence.
Fourtree Lawyers Solicitor Erin Nulty made a Section 4 Annulment Application to the Local Court to have the conviction overturned. The Annulment Application was based on our client’s medical circumstances at the time of the Court date.
The Magistrate upheld the Annulment Application and proceeded to re-sentence our client to a 2-year Conditional Release Order, without proceeding to conviction.
But for the annulment application, our client would have had a mark on his criminal record for this offence. Considering this offence carries a maximum penalty of $1,100 and an automatic/mandatory licence suspension for a period of 6 months, the avoidance of these penalties was a fantastic result.
No conviction CRO | Low Range PCA | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 46-year-old male who lives on the Central Coast. He is the primary carer for his elderly mother and works in aged care.
Our client had been celebrating his birthday at home with his mother and had been drinking shandy. After dinner, he drove to the shops to buy some ice cream and was pulled over for an RBT. Our client was charged with Low Range PCA. This offence carries an automatic 6-month licence disqualification period and a $1,100 fine.
A loss of licence would have seen our client’s ability to get to and from work and be able to care for his mother placed in jeopardy.
Solicitor Kevin Vierboom made submissions to the Magistrate as to our client’s sincere remorse, his previous good character his contribution to the community and need for a licence.
The Magistrate found our client guilty of the offence however without proceeding to conviction ordered him to enter into a Conditional Release Order with a 2-year good behaviour bond. This is similar to a Section 10(1)(b) under the new sentencing reforms.
Our client was extremely relieved to be able to keep his licence.
Low Range PCA | Conditional Release Order without Conviction | Toronto Local Court
Our client is a 48 year old male who had no previous record.
Our client was stopped for a random breath test whilst to travelling to work at 7am. He did not attract the attention of the Police for his manner of driving, but rather happened upon an RBT. The roadside test he was subjected to returned a low range reading for alcohol.
Our client was extremely surprised that he returned a positive result. He was unaware that the alcohol he had consumed the night prior would have seen him return this result.
The maximum penalty for this offence in the Local Court is a fine of $1,100. There is an automatic license disqualification period of six months and a minimum period of three months.
Solicitor Erin Nulty attended Toronto Local Court and made submissions in mitigation of the penalty. Our client was sentenced to a Conditional Release Order for six months without proceeding to conviction.
The pending Court matter had severely impacted our client and the stress was overwhelming. He was elated with the outcome and the avoidance of a criminal conviction on his record.
I've been very well taken care of since the first contact I made with Fourtree Lawyers. I never needed a lawyer before, so I was a bit lost. After a few minutes on the phone with Jane who was super nice, polite, professional and had the answers to all my questions, I decided that I would use them to help me out. It was the best decision I ever made. The end result was fantastic, exceeding my expectations. I would especially like to thank Jane, Erin and Kevin for their great work done with me. Thank you Fourtree Lawyers!