What is Low Range PCA?
The offence of Low Range PCA (Prescribed Content of Alcohol) is committed when a person drives with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to below 0.08. Penalties include a fine and licence disqualification, and vary according to whether this is a first or repeat offence. A criminal conviction may be recorded.
Low Range PCA is at the lower end of the drink driving spectrum. However, all drink driving offences are considered to be serious, and you still face significant penalties.
Most people who are prosecuted for this offence are genuinely surprised that they were over the limit. Quite often it comes down to a miscalculation about how much alcohol can be consumed or how long it takes for alcohol to be eliminated from your system.
If your reading is in the Low Range, it may be possible to challenge the reading. It is important to note that police give you a certificate stating the blood alcohol concentration at the time of analysis – not at the time of driving. Quite often there is a difference between the two readings, although the different reading might still be within the same range. However, there are many instances where we have successfully challenged the reading and had the charge withdrawn – avoiding a criminal record, avoiding a conviction and avoiding loss of licence.
What are the penalties for Low Range Drink Driving in NSW?
If you are found guilty of Low Range Drink Driving / PCA, you may have a criminal conviction recorded against you. This can affect your life in a number of ways, including your employment and your ability to travel to certain countries.
The penalty for a first offence within a 5 year period is a maximum fine of $1,100 and an automatic disqualification period of 6 months which can be reduced to not less than 3 months. It is possible to have no conviction recorded under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act and we can advise you of your prospects of achieving this result.
If this is your second major offence within a 5 year period, then the maximum fine increases to $2,200 and the automatic disqualification period doubles to 12 months, able to be reduced to not less than 6 months. We can however apply to get your licence back in only 3 months.
We will provide you with advice in relation to character references, likely court outcomes, Traffic Offender Intervention Program attendance, Interlock Programs and much more.
|Low Range Drink Driving/PCA Penalties NSW|
|First major offence within 5 years|
|Minimum disqualification||3 months|
|Maximum disqualification||6 months|
|Automatic disqualification (in the absence of a specific court order)||6 months|
|Second major offence within 5 years|
|Minimum disqualification under Interlock||1 month|
|Maximum disqualification under Interlock||3 months|
|Interlock period||12 months|
Although it doesn’t happen very often, in certain circumstances the court may grant you an exemption to the Interlock program for a second offence, which means the disqualification period increases.
How severe is the charge against you?
Low Range Drink Driving / Low Range PCA is taken seriously by the court, because of the risk of injury to members of the public that drink driving poses. The disqualification periods and fines are harsh, and can cause significant problems in your daily life.
Traffic Offender Intervention Program
This is a course which you can choose to sign up for. During the course, you will learn about traffic rules, why it is important to keep them and the potential consequences of failing to do so. After completion of the course, a certificate will be provided to the court, which may be taken into account in your sentencing.
If you have been found guilty of your second drink driving offence within five years, participation in the Interlock program is mandatory. Under the program, a device fitted to your vehicle will prevent your vehicle from starting if you blow over zero.
What happens next?
It is crucial that you obtain legal advice promptly once you have been charged with Low Range Drink Driving / PCA.
We can outline the likely penalties, and advise you on the steps to take immediately after you are charged, which can assist in establishing potential defences.
Low Range PCA Case Study
Our client failed a random roadside breath test. He was arrested and taken to the police station to provide a breath analysis. The machine recorded a blood alcohol content of 0.052, and our client was charged with the offence of Low Range PCA.
Our client was provided with a field Court Attendance Notice, requiring him to appear at Windsor Local Court.
On this offence alone, our client would have faced a minimum disqualification period of three months without a driver’s licence, in addition to a fine of up to $1,100.
However our client had been convicted of another drink driving offence in the past five years. This meant that he potentially faced increased penalties if convicted.
It was very important to our client to keep his driver’s licence – but an outright dismissal of the case seemed unlikely given our client’s prior record.
Our client told us he was most likely still in the absorption phase when he was pulled over, meaning that his blood alcohol content would have increased after the roadside breath test.
On our advice, he obtained a pharmacological report, with a view to establishing whether his blood alcohol concentration may have been below 0.05 at the time he was actually driving the car. If the pharmacological expert was able to form a view, on the balance of probabilities, that our client’s blood alcohol level was below 0.05 at the time of driving, our client would have a defence to the charge.
In these circumstances, the pharmacologist engaged on behalf of our client provided an expert evidence certificate and expert evidence statement which stated that our client’s blood alcohol reading was in fact below 0.05 at the time of driving and therefore the charge could not be maintained against him.
After we provided the police with our client’s pharmacological report, they obtained their own pharmacological report through the Police Forensic Medicine Unit which agreed with our expert’s findings.
Accordingly, the charge against our client was withdrawn and dismissed. Obviously our client was thrilled with this outcome.
The legal system can be very complicated and confusing. If our client had simply accepted the charge and pleaded guilty or not challenged the reading, he would almost certainly have lost his driver’s licence for some time and most probably would have lost his job as a result.