Offence provisions

Driving as a “novice driver” within the novice range of prescribed concentration of alcohol (novice range PCA) is an offence under section 110(1) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).


What is novice range drink driving?

Novice range drink driving occurs when a novice driver drives, or attempts to drive, a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) up to 0.02.

A novice driver is someone who has a zero alcohol limit. You may be considered a novice driver if you:

  • Hold a learner licence.
  • Hold a provisional licence.
  • Are participating in the alcohol interlock program.

Typically, police will administer a roadside breath test 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.

The breath analysis is deemed to be the concentration of alcohol present in your blood at the time of driving, provided that it was taken within two hours of driving.


Penalty notice

If novice range drink driving is your first alcohol or drug-related driving offence, the police may give you a penalty notice, which requires you to pay an on-the-spot fine of $572 instead of attending court.

Paying the fine means accepting that the offence was committed, and your licence will be suspended for three months. However, the offence will not be recorded on your criminal record.


Licence suspension

If you are charged with novice range drink driving, 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.


Novice range PCA penalties in NSW

Novice range drink driving is a “fine only” offence, and cannot lead to imprisonment. If you are charged, the potential penalties include:


PenaltyFirst offenceSubsequent offence
Penalty notice fine$572N/A
Maximum fine$2,200$3,300
Minimum disqualification3 months6 months
Maximum disqualification6 monthsUnlimited
Automatic disqualification 6 months12 months
Immediate licence suspensionYesYes
Interlock orderNoYes


Consequences of a conviction

If you are convicted of novice range drink driving, 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 you provide 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 you a more lenient sentence if you participate 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.


Frequently Asked Questions

In which court will novice range drink driving charges be heard?

Novice range drink driving charges are heard at a Local Court before a magistrate.

Will I lose my licence?

You will most likely lose your licence for a limited time if charged with novice range PCA. If you choose to pay the penalty notice your licence will be suspended for three months. If you take the matter to court, due to the prevalence of drink driving within our community, the most likely outcome will be a criminal conviction, which will also result in a licence disqualification.

Should I pay the penalty notice?

In some circumstances, the police officers may provide you with a penalty notice instead of a Court Attendance Notice. It may be easiest to deal with the charges and simply pay the fine, however there are consequences in doing so. Once you pay the fine, your licence will be suspended for three months.

You should seek legal advice before paying the penalty notice. Our drink driving lawyers can advise you whether this is the best option for you under the circumstances.

What happens to my car if my licence is immediately suspended?

You are not allowed to drive if your licence is suspended. If you are with a licensed passenger, they can drive your car, otherwise the vehicle must be left parked at a safe roadside location until collection can be organised.

How can we help?

We have over 55 years of experience in successfully defending drink driving offences in NSW.

Book a free consultation or call us on 1300 668 484 for 24/7 legal advice.