What is Heavy Vehicle Drink Driving?

Unsurprisingly, drivers of heavy vehicles are required to have a lower blood alcohol content than ordinary non-commercial car drivers. As such, this is a sub category of special range drink driving.

The limit is under 0.02 for those driving:

  • A heavy motor vehicle (classified as having a gross vehicle mass of greater than 13.9 tonnes), such as a truck
  • A coach
  • A public vehicle such as a taxi or bus
  • Certain vehicles which are carrying dangerous substances

When determining a sentence for heavy vehicle drink driving in NSW, the court will consider how much your blood alcohol content exceeded the permissible limit, and whether you have committed any other traffic infringements in the previous five years.

What are the penalties for Heavy Vehicle Drink Driving?

If you are facing a charge of heavy vehicle drink driving, there are a number of penalties that may be imposed, including a fine.

If you are charged with a second offence in a five-year period, you will be required to participate in the interlock program.


Heavy Vehicle Drink Driving Penalties NSW
First major offence within 5 years
Maximum fine$1,100
Minimum disqualification3 months
Automatic disqualification (in the absence of specific court order)6 months
Second major offence within 5 years
Maximum fine$2,200
Minimum disqualification under Interlock1 month
Maximum disqualification under Interlock3 months
Interlock period12 months


If you are granted an exemption from Interlock, longer disqualification periods will be applied. However, the courts grant very few exemptions.

How severe is the charge against you?

A driver who is in a position of public responsibility (either because they are driving a large vehicle or are carrying public passengers) is required to have a very low blood alcohol content in order to help avoid the risk of serious injury or death to other road users.

However, as this offence falls within the lower range category of drink driving, you may be able to pursue an argument under section 10 that no conviction should be recorded against you.

Traffic Offender Intervention Program (TOP or TOIP)

If you have participated in the Traffic Offender Intervention Program, the court may take this into account when determining your sentence for heavy vehicle drink driving.

More information about Traffic Offender Intervention Program

Interlock program

If you have been found guilty of heavy vehicle drink driving for the second time in the past five years, you will be required to participate in the Interlock program. A device will be fitted to your vehicle and you will not be able to turn on the engine unless you provide a breath sample free of any alcohol.

More information about Interlock program

How can Nyman Gibson Miralis assist you?

If you have been charged with heavy vehicle drink driving, it is likely that you are reliant upon your vehicle for your work. Although there are some fairly hefty penalties which may be imposed on you if you are found guilty of this charge, your prospects of retaining your driver’s licence for work purposes are drastically improved if you seek swift legal advice. Our defence lawyers are available 24/7 to provide expert legal advice. Not only will we do everything possible to get you the best result, to avoid disqualification if possible, and minimise the fines or sentence, we might even be able to assist you in avoiding a conviction with a Section 10.

Heavy Vehicles and Drink Driving Articles