One of the most common concerns for people with a drink driving charge is whether they will receive a criminal record.
In this post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of criminal records and drink driving convictions in New South Wales (NSW), including the potential repercussions and what you can do to lessen them.
Will I Get A Criminal Record For Drink Driving?
Drink driving is a criminal offence in NSW. This means if you are convicted you will receive a criminal record.
Understanding Criminal Records
The NSW Police Force is responsible for keeping track of people’s criminal records in NSW. They keep a record of all offences that a person is found guilty of.
The record includes details of the offence including the type of offence, the date of the offence and the penalty imposed by the court.
When a criminal record search is performed any ‘active’ convictions will be included in the report. Eventually, most offences will become ‘spent’. This means they no longer appear on the criminal record.
The main way that a conviction becomes spent is by having a 10 year crime free period from the date of conviction.
Even once a conviction is spent, it will still show up in some criminal record searches. For example, applications for certain types of employment, immigration and court proceedings usually show all prior convictions even if they are spent.
There are some types of convictions that never become spent, but usually, this doesn’t apply to drink driving cases unless the person is sentenced to gaol.
Consequences Of A Drink Driving Conviction
Having a criminal record can impact many aspects of a person’s life. This includes employment, immigration/visa/citizenship applications, insurance and travel.
It’s difficult to predict exactly what impact a drink driving conviction may have. In many cases, a person will still be able to travel or retain their employment even with a criminal record for drink driving. However, it’s unfortunately not possible to say a conviction will definitely not impact these things. There are times when the conviction may be held against you.
It’s important to discuss these concerns with your DUI lawyer early in the case. They can help identify what impact the conviction might have and steps to minimise or avoid these consequences.
Can I Avoid A Criminal Record?
There are two main ways to avoid a criminal record for a drink driving offence.
The first is to be found ‘not guilty’ of the offence. The law contains many technical rules around detecting and proving drink driving charges. Occasionally the police make a mistake that leads to them being unable to prove the charge. If a person is found ‘not guilty’ they will not receive a criminal conviction and the offence will not show on their criminal record.
In most cases though the police can prove the charge and the person will be found or plead guilty. In this case, it can still be possible to avoid a criminal conviction.
One of the options available to the magistrate when deciding the sentence (penalties) is a ‘non-conviction’. You might also hear this called a ‘section 10’ or ‘no conviction recorded’.
A ‘non-conviction’ is where the magistrate finds the person guilty but does not attach the conviction. The offence still goes on their record, but it is treated as a ‘spent conviction’ as soon as any good behaviour bond imposed for it expires.
While the non-conviction may still appear for some criminal record searches it reduces how often the offence will be disclosed. It is the closest a person can come to having a clear record after being found guilty of a drink driving charge.
We will be honest, it is not common to receive a non-conviction for a drink driving charge. However, it is not impossible.
You should seek advice from an experienced DUI lawyer if you think there are circumstances in your case to justify a non-conviction. Your lawyer can help you to identify the factors and evidence that will support your case.
It is natural to be worried about the impact of a conviction for a drink driving charge. We understand that most people charged with drink driving have never been in trouble with the law before. The prospect of a criminal record is daunting.
Good legal advice can make an enormous difference to your case. Ainsley Law is a reputable law firm specialising in traffic law in NSW. Our experienced solicitors can assist you in navigating the legal process and exploring potential strategies to mitigate the impact of the conviction.
Please call us today at (02) 8294 5697 or leave an enquiry.