Driving with a high range of prescribed concentration of alcohol (high range PCA) in your breath or blood, is an offence under section 110(5) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).
What is high range drink driving
High range drink driving / PCA occurs when you drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or above.
Typically, police will administer a breath test, often by the side of the road. This requires you to speak or breathe into a device, which will provide an indicative reading. If the reading is positive, you will be required to attend a police station for a breath analysis to determine your BAC.
Provided the breath analysis was taken within two hours of driving, the breath analysis is deemed to be the concentration of alcohol present in your blood at the time of driving.
If you are charged with high range PCA, the police can suspend and confiscate your licence within 48 hours of the charge or penalty notice being issued. The suspension will remain in place until the offence is heard by a court. If your licence is disqualified by the court, the magistrate will consider the licence suspension in deciding the disqualification period.
Both a licence suspension and disqualification prohibit you from driving for the specified period. While a licence suspension can be imposed by the RMS or NSW Police without a formal conviction for the offence, a licence disqualification is imposed by a court as part of the penalty for a formal conviction.
High Range PCA penalties in NSW
High range PCA is viewed as a serious offence and penalties can be harsh. Prison is a possibility, even for first time offenders.
If you are charged with high range PCA the potential penalties include:
|Penalty||First offence||Subsequent offence|
|Maximum term of imprisonment||18 months||2 years|
|Minimum disqualification||12 months||2 years|
|Automatic disqualification||3 years||5 years|
|Immediate licence suspension||Yes||Yes|
|Mandatory interlock order||Yes||Yes|
Consequences of a conviction
If you are convicted of high range PCA, you will have this offence noted on your criminal record and have your licence disqualified.
The automatic disqualification period will apply unless the court makes a specific order. The court can disqualify your licence for any length of time within the minimum and maximum periods listed above.
You will also be required to participate in the alcohol interlock program, and an interlock device will be fitted to your car. This is an electronic breath testing device which stops the car from starting unless the driver provides a zero-alcohol breath sample.
These consequences can be avoided if the court applies section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
Traffic Offender Intervention Program
The court may give a more lenient sentence to a person who participates in the Traffic Offender Intervention Program. This program covers traffic laws and rules, and the potential consequences of breaching the laws. When the course is finished, a certificate will be sent to the court and it can be considered in determining the sentence.