What is it High Range PCA?
Being charged with the offence of High Range PCA means you have been caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher. This is viewed as a very serious offence by the courts, meaning that penalties can be severe. Prison is a possibility, even for first time offenders.
What are the penalties for High Range PCA?
Participation in the Interlock program is mandatory for High Range PCA offences. The penalties include:
|First major offence within 5 years|
|Minimum disqualification under Interlock||6 months|
|Maximum disqualification under Interlock||9 months|
|Interlock Period||2 years|
|Maximum prison sentence||18 months|
|Second major offence within 5 years|
|Minimum disqualification under Interlock||9 months|
|Maximum disqualification under Interlock||12 months|
|Interlock period||4 years|
|Maximum prison sentence||2 years|
In very few circumstances, you may be exempt from participating in the Interlock program, which means longer disqualification periods will be imposed.
Factors in the court’s decision on penalties
The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has handed down a guideline judgment for offenders found guilty of High Range PCA, which includes a description of the “ordinary case” of an offender who has committed High Range PCA.
We can advise you on whether you fit within the ordinary case or not. If you fall outside the ordinary case, the court will consider your moral culpability, taking into account potential aggravating factors including:
- How intoxicated you were at the time of the offence.
- Whether you were driving particularly aggressively or erratically when you were detected.
- If you were driving competitively or otherwise “showing off”.
- How long your journey was (and therefore how long other people were at risk from your driving).
- Whether you had any passengers or specifically put other people at risk.
How severe is the charge against you?
High Range PCA is the most serious of the drink driving offences, and is dealt with stringently by the courts.
In fact, although for many traffic offences you may be able to argue that you should have the charge against you dismissed without conviction in accordance with section 10, this is rarely an option a court is prepared to consider in the case of High Range PCA.
However, despite the serious nature of the charge, we have helped clients obtain a section 10, and we can assist you in maximising your chances of leniency.
It’s usual to disqualify a first-time High Range PCA offender from holding a driver’s licence for between nine and 12 months.
We can help you obtain the lowest possible disqualification period in your circumstances by preparing mitigating arguments.
The Traffic Offender Intervention Program
If you are charged with High Range PCA, the court may reduce your sentence if you participate in the Traffic Offender Intervention Program, a course on traffic laws and the consequences of breaking them.
The Interlock program
If you are convicted of High Range PCA, you must participate in the Interlock program. After your disqualification period has ended, a device will be fitted to your car which you will be required to blow into before you turn on the ignition. If you record any blood alcohol level at all, your car will not start.
What happens next?
Although High Range PCA is a serious offence, depending on your circumstances and the steps you take immediately after you have been charged, there may be defences available to you.
Nyman Gibson Miralis can provide you with advice on likely penalties, potential defences, and any further actions you should take.