Drink Driving

Drink driving is seen as one of the most serious traffic offences a person can be charged with.

In Queensland, drink driving is treated as a serious offence. Once convicted, you may be issued a fine or have your driver licence disqualified for a period of time.

If you are currently facing any traffic charges, please do not hesitate to contact Ascent Lawyers to arrange an initial meeting.

What constitutes drink driving?

A drink driving charge is determined based on the alcohol content in your Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test. If you drive beyond the prescribed alcohol limit, you will be charged with a drink driving offence.

In Queensland, drink driving offences are normally divided into the below categories:

  • General alcohol limit (0.05% – 0.09%)
  • Middle alcohol limit (0.10% – 0.149%)
  • High alcohol limit (0.15% and above)

The table below contains information about the BAC limits for different licence types:

Licence type Legal BAC Limit
Learner licence holder P1/P2
Provisional licence holder
Probationary licence holder
Driver of truck (GVM over 4.5 t), taxi, limousine, tow truck, pilot vehilce, tractor, bus (built or fitted to carry more than 12 adults including driver), public passenger vehilcle, articulated motor vehicle, B-double, road train, vehicle carring dangerous goods, or driver supervising learner driver Zero
Open licence (except class RE motorcycle licence in first year) Below 0.05

What are the penalties for drink driving?

The seriousness of your penalty will depend on the following factors:

  • Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of offence
  • Traffic history, this includes any drink driving history

First Time Drink Driving

The table below shows the maximum penalties that may apply to a first time drink driving offenders:

Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) The length of licence disqualification
imprisonment period
0 – 0.05 3 – 9 months (this includes L Licence, P Licence and Restricted Driver’s License) $1,868 3 months
0.05 – 0.10 1 – 9 months $1,868 3 months
0.10 – 0.15 3 – 12 months $2,669 6 months
0.15 and above Less than 6 months $3,736 9 months

If the circumstances become more serious or it appears to be a repeat drink driving offence, the penalty may increase.

Repeat Drink Driving

If you are charged with a repeat drink driving offence, you may:

  • have your car impounded (if you have a BAC 0.15 and over or fail to provide a specimen of breath or blood)
  • have your licence disqualified for up to 2 years
  • be fined up to $8,007
  • be sentenced to a term of imprisonment determined by the court

24-hour suspension

A 24-hour suspension will apply if your BAC is less than 0.10. Your licence will be suspended for at least 24 hours from the time your BAC is confirmed as having exceeded the limit applicable to your licence type.

Immediate suspension

Your driver licence will be suspended immediately if you:

  • have been charged with a low range drink driving offence while:
    • an earlier drink driving charge is still pending
    • you were the holder of a section 79E order and your replacement licence is subject to an X4 condition
  • have been charged with a mid range or high range drink driving offence
  • fail to provide police with a specimen of breath or blood when requested
  • have been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence

The immediate suspension will end when the drink driving charge has been dealt with by the court, is withdrawn or discontinued.

My licence is disqualified because of drink driving, but I need to drive to work. What should I do?

If your driver licence is disqualified because of drink driving and your work will be affected, you may apply to the court for a work licence. A work licence normally allows you to drive for work purposes only and not for other personal reasons.

If losing a drivers licence will put you and your family in extreme hardship, please contact our experienced traffic lawyers and we will arrange an initial meeting to assist with your matter.

I was not drink driving. I was simply sitting inside my car after drinking. How come I was charged with drink driving?

You can be charged with drink driving if you were in charge of a vehicle which you had control with, for example, you were in the driver’s seat and had the keys near you even if you were not driving or had no intention to drive.

This normally occurs when people are in the car waiting to be picked up or sleeping.

It does not matter that the car was not on a road. You can be charged with drink driving even if the car was on private property such as a car park or driveway.

What happens after my disqualification period has ended?

Once your licence disqualification period has ended, you may reapply for your licence. You cannot simply start driving after the disqualification period has ended.

You will receive a Probationary Licence for a period of one year. This means that:

  • You only have 4 demerit points available
  • You have a zero alcohol limit

You do not need to re-sit any test to get your licence back if you already had a licence at the time of the offence.

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