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Drink Driving: Penalties
& Disqualification Periods

Do I have to go to Court?

If you have been charged with drink driving, you will likely be issued a Notice to Appear by the Queensland Police Service.  You must attend Court on the date provided on the Notice to Appear.  Failure to appear at Court is an offence, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

Ranges

The penalty you will receive for drink driving is dependant on several factors, including your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).  Your BAC is the amount of alcohol in your system, measured by calculating grams of alcohol per 100ml of blood.  Your BAC will be obtained by the arresting officer through a breath test or blood test.

There are several drink driving offences, and your BAC will determine which offence you are charged with.  The categories of offences are:-

  • Low Range – BAC reading of 0.05 to 0.09
  • Mid Range – BAC reading of 0.10 to 0.14
  • High Range – BAC reading 0.15 or above

There is also an offence of driving while over the no alcohol limit and under the general alcohol limit (BAC 0.01 to 0.04).  This offence will only occur if your licence is subject to a condition that prohibits you from having any alcohol in your system when driving.  A probationary licence is an example of a licence that requires the holder to have no alcohol in their system when driving.

Penalties

The penalties for drink driving include the imposition of a fine or term of imprisonment and license disqualification.  The penalty you receive will depend on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and whether you have been convicted of a similar offence in the five years prior to offending.

Disqualification

There are mandatory disqualification periods for drink driving offences in Queensland.  This means that you will lose your licence automatically when you are convicted of a drink driving offence, as the Court does not have discretion to allow you to keep your licence in these circumstances.

The period of disqualification will be dependant on the BAC and whether you have been convicted of a similar offence in the five years prior to offending.

If you would like further advice on minimising the penalty and disqualification period you will receive for drink driving, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Solicitor, Wallace & Wallace Lawyers Mackay

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Associate
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

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Hand with watch and dollars sign

What happens if I can’t pay my fine

A Court may impose a fine as your penalty for committing an offence.  A fine can be imposed as part of your penalty, or can be imposed alongside other penalties such as a period of disqualification.  You will also be required to pay the Offenders Levy, in addition to any fine imposed.

The sentencing Magistrate or Judge will ordinarily provide a timeframe for payment of your fine.  If you do not pay your fine, you are “in default”.  At the time of sentencing, the sentencing Magistrate or Judge will advise you that you will be required to spend a certain amount of time in custody should you be in default.

You will not be placed in custody immediately if you do not pay your fine.  The Court will refer the fine to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) for payment.  You will likely be able to negotiate a payment plan with SPER if you are unable to pay your fine in full.  You may also be eligible to complete community service instead of paying your fine.  This is known as a fine option order.

It is important that you pay your fine.  If you do not pay your fine, SPER can take steps to collect payment.  This includes suspending your drivers licence and/or issuing a warrant for your arrest and imprisonment.  You may also be charged an enforcement fee should SPER be required to take steps to enforce payment.

If you are unable to pay your fine, or you are concerned about possible enforcement by SPER, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Solicitor, Wallace & Wallace Lawyers Mackay

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Associate
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Read More
Car steering wheel

Am I going to lose my licence?

In Queensland, there are several offences that are subject to mandatory licence disqualification. For these offences, the Court must disqualify you from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver licence for a period of time. This means that a period of disqualification must be imposed regardless of your personal circumstances, or the impact the disqualification will have on you.

Offences that are subject to a mandatory period of disqualification include:-

  • Drink driving;
  • Failing to provide a specimen;
  • Driving with a relevant drug in your system; and
  • Driving while disqualified.

There are also several offences, such as driving without due care and attention, that may result in the Court disqualifying you from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver licence for a period of time. Where there is no mandatory disqualification for an offence, the Court will take into account the gravity of the offence and your personal circumstances when determining whether to disqualify your licence.

In some circumstances, you may be able to apply for a Restricted Licence (commonly referred to as a “work licence”) or a Special Hardship Order. If you are successful, you will be able to drive for purposes directly connected to your employment during your period of disqualification. The application process is quite lengthy and you are required to provide the Court significant detail regarding the financial hardship you would suffer if you were to lose your licence. You must also show that you are a fit and proper person to be granted a Restricted Licence or Special Hardship Order. We recommend that you seek legal advice in relation to your eligibility for a Restricted Licence or Special Hardship Order.

If you are disqualified from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver licence, the disqualification is effective immediately. You will be required to surrender your licence to the police. This can have further implications than an inability to drive, as many people rely on their licence as photographic identification. It is important to consider this, and to obtain alternate identification, prior to Court.

You will be required to apply for a new licence from the Department of Transport and Main Roads should you be disqualified for any period of time. You are not able to drive until you have been issued a new licence from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

If you would like more information regarding your traffic matter, or your eligibility for a Restricted Licence or Special Hardship Order, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi Solicitor, Wallace & Wallace Lawyers Mackay

Cassandra Adorni-Braccesi
Associate
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Read More
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