Is Drink Driving a Criminal Offence in NSW?

As the holiday season approaches, many of us will be out enjoying festivities and having a drink or two. We all understand that drink driving is dangerous, but we are also all capable of mistakes. To help you understand the legal side of drink driving in NSW, we’ve answered the common questions – such as what classifies as drink driving and will it appear on your criminal record?

What classifies as drink driving in NSW?

In NSW, and across Australia, drivers must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.05 to be considered legal to drive. There are different penalties depending on the level of your BAC reading and, in some cases, the type of driver you are. The NSW levels are:

  • Low: 0.05-0.079
  • Mid: 0.08-0.149
  • High: 0.15 and above

If you are a novice driver (on L or P-plates) you must have a zero BAC reading. If you are a specialist driver (taxis, buses, heavy vehicles) your reading levels start at 0.02 rather than 0.05. Another factor which can increase penalties is if this is your first offence or not. The most common penalties are fines ($1,000-$3,000+) and loss of license (from 3 months up to 3 years). With a mid-high BAC reading or for repeat offences, you may be given an interlock order. An interlock is a breath testing device fitted to your vehicle which prevents your car from functioning if alcohol is detected.

Do drink driving offences appear on your criminal record?

Your criminal record is a list of offences of which you have been found guilty or pleaded guilty in court. Even if you are found not guilty, the offence will be recorded on your criminal history. Your criminal record appears as part of police and background checks whereas your criminal history is mostly applicable to bail applications.

If you are required to attend court for a drink driving offence, there is a chance it will go on your criminal record. If you have been charged with a drink driving offence, it is recommended to consult with professional drink driving lawyers who can advise on your situation.

Can your criminal record be cleared?

After 10 crime free years as an adult, a conviction may become spent – meaning it is removed from a criminal record. For police or background checks you will be considered to have a ‘clean record’ once again, unless other offences are still existing. You cannot remove offences from your criminal history.

Contact our drink driving lawyers for professional legal advice

Your best chance for success in court is with Powerhouse Law. We represent clients for drink driving offences at all courts in NSW from Parramatta to Penrith, Blacktown, Campbelltown and more. For 24/7 legal assistance call 1800 100 529 or arrange a consultation with our online form.

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