Our client had previously held an overseas driver’s licence for eight years and an Australian licence for a further six years. In those 14 years of driving, he had not been issued with any traffic infringement notices and had no criminal convictions.
On the night in question, he attended a birthday party accompanied by his wife and child. He elected to take his car to the party – although it was within walking distance – and planned to leave it there overnight and walk home.
But when the party was over, our client realised that one of his child’s friends had been waiting for a taxi for over an hour. He decided to offer the friend a lift, assuming that he would not be over the limit. Neither our client’s wife or the parent of his daughter’s friend believed that he would be over the limit either.
Nonetheless, the police observed our client’s vehicle drift into another lane. He was pulled over and subjected to random breath test (RBT), which returned a positive reading.
Our client was arrested and taken back to the local police station, where he provided a breath analysis. He returned a blood alcohol concentration of 0.112, toward the midpoint of the mid range (between 0.08 and 0.150).
The police issued our client with a court attendance notice for drink driving. He was also issued with an evidentiary certificate, and his licence was suspended on the spot.
An offence of this nature can carry a maximum penalty of nine months imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,200 and an automatic disqualification period of 12 months (and not less than six months).
If charged with mid-range PCA, an offender can also apply for an Interlock licence. Under the Interlock program, a device is installed in the vehicle and the driver will need to provide a breath sample before the car will start.
The advantage of installing an Interlock device is that the disqualification period for mid-range PCA only lasts for six months. The device remains in the vehicle for two years.
On our advice, our client participated in the Traffic Offender Intervention Program, an educational program designed to outline the consequences of breaking traffic laws.
This program can be taken into account in sentencing.
Although a driver’s prior good character is generally not a mitigating factor when faced with a charge of mid-range PCA, their prior excellent driving record may be taken into account by the local court magistrate when determining whether or not to record a conviction in accordance with section 10.
Our client pleaded guilty to the drink driving offence, and we tendered character references in court. We also made submissions as to our client’s:
- Prior good driving record.
- Reliance on a driver’s licence.
- Obvious miscalculation as to the effects of his alcohol consumption.
- Embarrassment at being arrested in front of friends and family.
- Short journey undertaken at the time of the offence.
- Suspension of several months by the time the matter came before the court.
Taking these factors into account, the magistrate found that it was inexpedient in the circumstances to record a conviction and placed our client on a good behaviour bond. This also meant that our client was fortunate enough to avoid a licence disqualification.
A good outcome for the client
Our client was very pleased and relieved with the outcome. By obtaining legal advice promptly, our client was advised on the appropriate steps to take to minimise the penalty imposed on him. This meant that he was able to avoid a recorded conviction and keep his driver’s licence.