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Driving under the Influence (DUI)

If you’ve just been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or another drug, then you’re bound to have a lot of questions. Read on for an overview of DUI in NSW or feel free to contact us if you’d rather talk to a dedicated traffic lawyer for personalised advice.

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What is DUI

DUI occurs when a person drives while affected by drugs or alcohol. It is based on police observations about your behaviour (e.g. “he couldn’t walk straight” or “he smelt of alcohol”).

It is the offence often used where police have observed you to be affected by alcohol or drugs while driving but have not taken a sample of your breath, oral fluid, blood or urine.

What if I’m not guilty?

The police have to prove that you were driving under the influence ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.

It is sometimes possible to dispute that you were driving the vehicle and/or that you were under the influence.

Please contact us to discuss putting the police to proof on your matter.

What happens if I plead guilty to DUI?

The Court will decide what (if any) penalty to impose.

Don’t worry that if you plead guilty the magistrate won’t hear your side of the story.

During the sentencing proceedings the magistrate will give your lawyer the chance to explain what happened, what type of person you are and the impact that the case and any penalty will have on you. The magistrate will consider all of those things when deciding what penalty to impose.

With the right preparation you can reduce the penalties that the magistrate would otherwise impose.

Read on for more about what to expect at your sentence hearing.

What are the penalties for driving under the influence?

DUI Alcohol – First offence

Section 10 dismissal

  • without conviction,
  • without a fine, and
  • without a disqualification period.
or

Conviction

  • with a fine of up to $3,300,
  • with a disqualification period of 6 to 9 months,
  • followed by participation in the interlock program for a minimum period of 2 years that can be increased as the Court sees fit,
  • with a Gaol term of up to 18 months.

DUI Alcohol – Second or subsequent offence in 5 years

Section 10 dismissal

  • without conviction,
  • without a fine, and
  • without a disqualification period.
or

Conviction

  • with a fine of up to $5,500,
  • with a disqualification period of 9 to 12 months,
  • followed by participation in the interlock program for a minimum period of 4 years that can be increased as the Court sees fit,
  • with a Gaol term of up to 2 years.

DUI Drug – First offence

Section 10 dismissal

  • without conviction,
  • without a fine, and
  • without a disqualification period.
or

Conviction

  • with a fine of up to $3,300,
  • with an automatic disqualification period of 3 years that can be reduced to a minimum of 12 months,
  • with a Gaol term of up to 18 months.

DUI Drug – Second or subsequent offence in 5 years

Section 10 dismissal

  • without conviction,
  • without a fine, and
  • without a disqualification period.
or

Conviction

  • with a fine of up to $5,500,
  • with an automatic disqualification period of 5 years that can be reduced to a minimum of 2 years,
  • with a Gaol term of up to 2 years.

The penalties for driving under the influence are some of the harshest that the Local Court can impose.

Ordinarily, a person will receive a criminal conviction, a fine and licence disqualification, followed by participation in the Alcohol Interlock Program.

The penalties become more serious if there are ‘aggravating factors’ present. An aggravating factor is something that makes the offence worse. For example: a crash, severely affected behaviour, passengers in the car, or previous serious offences. 

Where there are aggravating factors the Court will usually consider penalties such a good behaviour bonds and community service and Gaol. 

For an honest assessment of the likely penalty in your case please contact us.

What is the Alcohol Interlock Program?

Drivers licenced under the Alcohol Interlock Program are required to have breathalysers installed in their cars. For the duration of their participation in the scheme they have to blow 0.00 before their cars will start.

Any person convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol must participate in the Alcohol Interlock Program unless they are exempted by the Court.

The Court can only exempt a person if:

  • they don’t have access to a vehicle in which to install the breathalyser; or
  • they have a medical condition that prevents them from using the device.

Read on for more information about the Alcohol Interlock Program.

Can I get my licence back pending court?

Usually the police suspend a driver’s licence immediately when they are charged with DUI.

While it is possible to appeal against the immediate police suspension, it is unfortunately very difficult to get your licence back pending your court date.

You can read more about appealing the immediate police suspension here.

Can I get a section 10 for driving under the influence?

It is extremely rare to get a section 10 for DUI.

A section 10 is an order where the magistrate finds you guilty of the offence, but releases you without a criminal conviction or further punishment. The police licence suspension is also lifted.

The Court will not usually grant a section 10 for a DUI because the offence is just too serious.

Read more about section 10

Contact us for an honest assessment of the likely penalties in your case and to discuss whether yours might be one of the rare instances where a section 10 dismissal for a charge of driving under the influence is appropriate.

Will I get a criminal record for DUI?

If you are convicted of DUI, you will receive a criminal conviction and criminal record.

There are two ways to avoid this:

  • Be found not guilty.
  • Be found guilty, but without conviction recorded (section 10).
What happens on my first court date?

Often there is not much time between now and your first court date. There is no need to be concerned about this, as the Court will normally allow you more time to prepare.

On the first court date, the magistrate will ask what you are planning to do with your case. You can do one of three things:

  • Enter a plea of ‘guilty’ and either ask that the magistrate give you a penalty that day or ask for more time to prepare.
  • Enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and your matter will be adjourned to a later date for hearing.
  • Ask for an adjournment to get some legal advice.
DUI Legislation

 The offence of DUI is contained in:

  • section 112(1) of the Road Transport Act 2013

 

Ainsley Law

Sydney
Level 1, 299 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Parramatta
Suite 19, 103 George Street
Parramatta NSW 2150

Hours

Monday 8:30am–5:30pm
Tuesday 8:30am–5:30pm
Wednesday 8:30am–5:30pm
Thursday 8:30am–5:30pm
Friday 8:30am–5:30pm
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

Contact us

0416 224 601

enquiries@ainsleylaw.com.au

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