New NSW laws for low range drink driving

Posted on Jun 26, 2019 by Peter Mullen   |   Categories: Criminal & Traffic Law

The NSW government has introduced tough new laws as part of its zero-tolerance approach to drink driving.

What’s new? And from when?
From 20 May 2019, police were given the power to suspend a person’s driver licence immediately for any drink driving offence. This now includes low-range drink driving offences. Previously, police could only issue on-the-spot licence suspensions to drivers charged with mid-range and high-range PCA offences. Now police may suspend a driver’s licence for low-range PCA being a reading of between 0.050 – 0.079.

What does this mean?
It means that all drink drivers in NSW now face an immediate loss of licence. First time offenders will be suspended for at least 3 months and receive a $561 fine. The same penalties will apply to those caught driving with illicit drugs in their system if confirmed by laboratory analysis.

What are your options if given an automatic suspension?
If you have received a fine and an immediate suspension for a drink‐driving offence, you can lodge an appeal with the Local Court of NSW. It is important to remember that the suspension remains in place until you appear before the court. The court can either:
• Set aside the suspension (this means that you keep your licence);
• Vary the suspension (this means that the suspension remains in force but is reduced).

How do I appeal?
By filing a notice of appeal with the Local Court.

How long do I have to appeal and what is the process?
The notice of appeal must be filed with the court within 28 days of the date you were suspended. However, it may take up to 4-6 weeks before your matter is listed to come before the court.

What factors are relevant to the appeal?
If you are appealing an automatic police suspension, you must show the court that there are exceptional circumstances justifying lifting or reducing the suspension. The “exceptional circumstances” test sets a high standard because immediate licence suspensions are imposed for serious offences. The law does not specify what are exceptional circumstances, but factors such as needing your licence for work are not considered exceptional. The circumstances surrounding the offence will also not be considered.

How much will an appeal cost?
All situations are different and therefore costs may vary, but we offer a one-hour initial consultation in these matters at a cost of $275.00. At that appointment the further costs to be incurred will be discussed.