Repute Law

(7.00 am to 11.00 pm, 7 days)

Do you realise the consequences of drink driving in New South Wales?

Know Your Rights – What is Drink Driving and what are the penalties and defences?

In NSW, drink driving offences are governed by the Road Transport Act 2013. Section 4 of the Act defines drinking driving as the presence of alcohol in a person’s breath or blood or the presence of a drug (other than alcohol) in a person’s oral fluid, blood or urine.

Categories & Consequences of Drink Driving Offences


Novice range is referred to having a blood alcohol level between 0.00 to 0.19 and driving a motor vehicle or occupying the driver’s seat and attempting to put the vehicle into motion. This applies to learners, P1 and P2 licence drivers and attracts a 3–6-month suspension, a $2,200 fine for a first offence or $3,300 for a second or subsequent offence, and a suspension from driving for up to 12 months.

Special Range

The special range of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) falls between 0.02 and 0.049 for learners, P1 and P2, bus and taxi drivers. The legislation essentially states that a person with any of these types of licence should have a blood alcohol level of zero. The penalties for special range are identical to those for novice range.

Low Range

In NSW, low range drink driving is classified as having a blood alcohol concentration between 0.05 and 0.079. Despite being viewed as a less serious offence, it still carries significant penalties, such as fines ranging from $2,200 to $3,300, depending on whether it is a first or subsequent offence. There is also the risk of losing your licence for a substantial period and legal consequences of drink driving. These can include going to court and a criminal record. If you are charged with low range drink driving, seeking professional legal advice immediately to understand your options is essential.


To be found guilty of mid-range drink driving, you must have a reading between 0.08 and 0.0149. Unfortunately, mid-range drink driving can have severe consequences. Apart from hefty fines, individuals found guilty of this offence may face imprisonment for a maximum period of nine months and have their licence suspended for 6 to 12 months. A person guilty of mid-range drink driving could also be suspended for six months and then subject to an interlock requirement of 12 months on top of the suspension.

For second or subsequent offences, the legal consequences of drink driving are significantly higher. If found guilty, a person could face up to 12 months’ imprisonment and fines of up to $3,300.

Additionally, as a further repercussion, they may face a suspension period ranging from 12 months to 3 years. Alternatively, they might be suspended for 6 to 9 months and be ordered to install an alcohol interlock device in their vehicle for a further 24 months.


Under s110(5) of the Road Transport Act 2013, high-range drink driving is a serious offence involving a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above. If found guilty, you may face significant penalties, such as a loss of your licence for up to three years for first-time offences (which may entail an interlock period) and up to five years for second or subsequent offences. Additionally, you may face fines ranging from $3,300 to $5,500 and potential imprisonment for 18 months for a first conviction and up to two years for subsequent offences. It is important to note that the police will suspend your licence immediately if a breathalyser test indicates a high-range reading at the roadside.

Alcohol Interlock Systems

According to NSW laws, drivers who are found guilty of mid-range, high-range, repeat, or other severe drink driving offences are required to have an alcohol interlock device installed in their designated vehicle for a specific duration, corresponding to the type of drink driving offence they have been convicted of.

The purpose of the alcohol interlock device is to ensure the registered vehicle records a blood alcohol level of zero whenever the individual turns the ignition. The results are documented if the reading is above zero, and authorities can access this information. You may face additional charges if found to be over the legal limit. It is against the law to drive any other vehicle during the period that the interlock order is in place.

In addition to such severe legal consequences of drink driving, a conviction alone can tarnish your reputation, hamper your employment prospects, and even limit your ability to travel internationally. With the stakes so high, it is imperative to engage the expertise of Repute Law’s Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers, who possess unrivalled knowledge and experience in handling drink driving cases.


Drink driving is taken seriously in NSW. This means if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds the prescribed legal limit, you risk incurring criminal charges, penalties and potential loss of driving privileges. Despite these risks and charges, there are certain situations that could provide you with a reasonable defence.

Common Defences for Drink Driving

When facing drink driving charges in New South Wales, drivers have several defences available to them. Some common defences are challenging the accuracy of breathalyser and blood test results and disputing the admissibility of evidence. Others include:

Duress – in some cases, where a person has driven under the influence due to threats or coercion, the defence of duress may be applicable. The case of *R v Hurley* (2006) 167 A Crim R 438 established that a reasonable belief in the existence of a threat or coercion could potentially negate criminal liability.

Honest and Reasonable Mistake – if you had an honest and reasonable belief that your BAC was below the legal limit at the time of driving, the defence of honest and reasonable mistake may apply.

Burden of Proof

How Repute Law can help?

The legal consequences of a drink driving charge can be severe, including fines, jail time and a permanent criminal record. It is crucial to seek legal advice promptly to protect your rights and achieve the best outcome.

At Repute Law, we have a deep understanding of relevant case law and guidelines, allowing us to effectively represent clients facing drink driving charges. Each client is assigned a dedicated Senior Criminal Defence Lawyer and a qualified Case Concierge®, ensuring you receive the highest level of representation and are Court Ready®.

Engage Repute Law at the earliest opportunity, so our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers can promptly gather evidence, interview witnesses and prepare the best possible defence. Our team will negotiate with the police, aiming to minimise reputational loss by seeking to have the charges reduced or even dismissed without going to Court. Early representation could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

Don’t let a drink driving charge derail your future. Contact Repute Law today to ensure you receive the exceptional legal representation you deserve. Act now and take the first step towards protecting your rights and securing your future.

Share this


Lastest Posts

Do you know how to respond to a police search in NSW?

Police Searches: How to respond when faced with police searches in NSW? When confronted with a police search, it’s crucial to comprehend the legal framework governing such actions. The law in New South Wales requires that police adhere to certain procedures during searches to ensure they are conducted lawfully. Any

Read More

Are you subject to cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying: Here’s what you need to know In today’s digital age, cyberbullying has emerged as a significant societal issue, with far-reaching consequences. If you’re grappling with cyberbullying charges in New South Wales, comprehending the legal framework and your defence options is paramount. Penned by a seasoned legal expert from Repute

Read More