Downing Centre Local Court, Sydney
Our client was pulled over by police due to the manner of his driving, swerving between lanes before stopping at the side of the road. He was subjected to a roadside breath test, which returned a positive result. After being taken to the police station, a breath analysis revealed our client had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.140 grams of alcohol in 210 litres of breath.
This placed him at the upper end of a Mid Range Drink Driving/PCA offence, and his licence was automatically suspended by police. It was his first offence.
Potential penalties for this offence
As a first offence within a five-year period, Mid Range PCA carries potential penalties of nine months imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,200, as well as an automatic disqualification period of 12 months. The disqualification period can be reduced to a minimum of six months.
What happened in court
Our client entered a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity. The matter then proceeded to sentencing at the Downing Centre Local Court once our client had completed the Traffic Offender Intervention Program.
Before this offence, our client had an unblemished driving record, having held his licence for over 28 years without incurring a single speeding ticket or infringement. He also had a real need for his licence to meet the demands of his occupation as a sales rep. His job involved covering the whole of NSW and the ACT as the only sales representative for a small business.
Since his licence was suspended he had been hiring a private driver at his own expense to keep his job. This came at a substantial cost of around $400 per week.
Our traffic lawyer appeared at court and various documents were provided during the sentencing proceedings. These included a letter from his employer and bank statements showing the expense he had incurred hiring a private driver. The bank statements showed the extent of the extra-curial punishment he had suffered as a result of the offence.
It was put to the court that if our client was convicted and the automatic disqualification period of 12 months was imposed, he would have to spendclose to $20,000 on the driver if he was to keep his job.
Even if he was given the minimum disqualification period of six months, he would still have had to spend almost $10,000. This would have caused him extreme financial hardship at a level that was disproportionate to the offending behaviour.
The magistrate was in a difficult situation. There was no option to reduce the disqualification period below six months, but giving our client a Section 10 order then and there would have not acted as a deterrent to the wider community, considering that he was on the high end of the Mid Range PCA category and had only been off the road for two months.
Our solicitor argued that while our client had not spent long enough off the road at that time, imposing the minimum disqualification period of six months would be unduly harsh considering his excellent driving record and the level of financial hardship he would suffer.
It was suggested that the court adjourn the proceedings for a number of weeks to satisfy the community that our client had spent sufficient time off the road. The magistrate agreed and adjourned the sentencing proceedings for six weeks.
After those six weeks were up our client was given a section 10 and placed on a good behaviour bond for a period of six months. No conviction was recorded and he was able to drive again.