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Drink Driving, Drug Driving & Traffic Offences

Whether you have been issued with an infringement notice, charged with a drink driving or drug driving offence, it is important to contact one of our experienced Melbourne Criminal Lawyers immediately. Our Criminal Lawyers will advise you of your rights, identify to you all available options, and advise how to best proceed with your matter given your particular circumstances.

 

In circumstances involving drink driving or drug driving, there are two fundamental types of offences with which the individual can be charged:

  • Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
  • Driving with a prescribed concentration of alcohol or drugs present in their system.

Drink Driving

In Victoria, drink driving and Drinking Under the Influence penalties are amongst the toughest in Australia, and the legal implications of being caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.05 or more, are serious.

Our Criminal Defence Lawyer will be able to determine whether you have a defence available, the strength of that defence, the potential costs of defending a charge, as well as any likely penalties that the individual will receive (whether or not they plead, or are found guilty) including any suspension or disqualification of their licence. In Victoria the penalties for traffic offences are set out on the VicRoads website.

 

The period of an individual’s licence disqualification varies depending on the individual and the circumstances of the offence, such as:

  • Whether the offence is accompanied by further offences (i.e. speeding, driving dangerously, etc.);
  • The amount of their blood alcohol concentration level;
  • Whether drugs were also found in their system;
  • Whether they have committed the same or a similar offence previously; and
  • What type of licence they hold.

 

Our Criminal Defence Lawyers can assist in defending a drink driving charge, having regard to our client’s particular circumstances. Subject to those circumstances, our Criminal Defence Lawyers typically recommend the following:

  1. Complete a Road Trauma Course to demonstrate that you are serious about improving your driving behaviour and are sincerely reflecting on the issue of drink driving;
  2. Arrange character references;
  3. Arrange alcohol counselling if the client has an alcohol problem which the Court will take into consideration of our client’s attempts at rehabilitation when the Court is imposing a sentence; and
  4. Liver function test to explain if the client’s blood alcohol concentration reading was unusually high.

 

Although a traffic infringement for drink driving is technically with conviction, the Victorian Spent Conviction legislation makes it clear that a traffic infringement notice will be a conviction that is immediately considered a spent conviction, and does not typically appear on a record check, unless an exception applies.

 

In Victoria there are severe penalties if you are caught driving while under the influence of both illicit drugs and alcohol over the legal limit. Further information is available on the VicRoads website.

Drug Driving

Pursuant to section 3 of the Road Safety Act, drug driving offences include an individual testing positive for amphetamine, ice, MDMA, ecstasy, or cannabis. This includes driving whilst under the influence of not only illegal drugs, but prescription medication as well.

 

If this test shows the presence of illicit drugs or a legal, impairing drug in the driver’s system, the police may require the driver to undergo a second saliva test at either a police station, or at a nearby drug and alcohol bus. If a driver is unable to provide a saliva sample, or if the testing unit is not in working order, the police may then require the driver to provide a blood sample in the alternative.

 

Typically, only severe drug driving offences involve a jail term for a first offence, such as driving under the influence pursuant to section 49(1)(a) Road Safety Act. The maximum penalty of this offence is three (3) months imprisonment otherwise, in other scenarios involving first-time drug driving offences attract a maximum penalty of a fine alongside a six (6) month licence disqualification.

 

If subsequent drug driving offences are committed, steeper financial penalties will apply alongside a 12 months’ minimum licence disqualification. These matters are usually dealt with at Court and a conviction may be imposed.

 

It is possible to avoid recording a conviction, however, there will typically be a finding of guilt on road traffic history. If it is a subsequent drug driving offence and the matter proceeds to Court, in order to avoid conviction, a lawyer will typically be required to advance the individuals plea in mitigation and to show the Court of the negative impact a conviction will have on their life.

In Victoria there are severe penalties if you are caught driving while under the influence of illicit drugs. Further information is available on the VicRoads website.

Traffic Offences

Traffic laws are in place to ensure the safety of road users and pedestrians. Traffic offences span from road safety offences and minor traffic offences to offences that include breaches of the Crimes Act.

 

Traffic offences include:

  • Speeding;
  • Driving whilst Suspended or Disqualified;
  • Careless/Reckless Driving;
  • Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death or Bodily Harm;
  • Hoon Driving; and
  • Careless Driving.

 

Usually, minor traffic offences such as speeding slightly over the limit, or using a mobile phone whilst driving, are ordinarily not heard in Court. However, individuals who wish to challenge the penalty can elect to do so in Court.

 

VicRoads ordinarily manages the relicensing requirements. Anyone with a suspended, disqualified, or cancelled licence must attend VicRoads to be advised of their requirements to be re-licensed.

 

Traffic offences can be very serious and have significant penalties. In Victoria there are penalties if you commit traffic offence. Further information is available on the fines and infringements can be found on the VicRoads website.

Will I get a criminal record?

The Court can exercise its discretion whether or not to record a conviction and will generally take into account the following per Section 8 of the Sentencing Act:

 

  1. The nature of the offence;
  2. The character and past history of the offender; and
  3. The impact of the recording of a conviction on the offender’s economic or social well-being, or on their employment prospects.

 

We highly recommend you seek the assistance of our team of Criminal Lawyers to navigate the complexities of these sentencing submissions.

Appeals and Payment of Penalty/Infringement Notices

Obtaining legal advice before a decision is made regarding filing a Court election, or licence appeal is very important, as once a Court election or licence appeal is filed, the application cannot be withdrawn.

 

Similarly, obtaining advice before you pay a Penalty/Infringement Notice is also very important, because if a Penalty/Infringement Notice is paid for, the individual forfeits their right to dispute the allegation as payment of the Penalty Notice is an admission of guilt.

 

Therefore, it is crucial to discuss your matter with a lawyer prior to making a payment of the Penalty Notice, or before filing any applications with the Court.

 

It is also important to note that unpaid fines for minor offences can quickly accumulate and receive further penalties and have their matters listed before the Infringement Court.

 

We strongly recommend for individuals to find out whether they have any outstanding fines by contacting Fines Victoria. Infringement matters can result in terms of imprisonment for otherwise what would have otherwise been a minor offence. If the fines have reached a high value, contact our office to discuss your matter and options with one of our Criminal Lawyers.

What next?

We can help you with:

  • Avoiding a custodial sentence (imprisonment);
  • Avoiding long and lengthy community correction orders;
  • Minimising your licence loss and in some circumstances, prevent any licence loss; and
  • Keeping monetary penalties to a minimum.

 

If you have been charged with any of the above offences, it is important to discuss your matter as early as possible with one of our Criminal Lawyers, as they may need to obtain reports, engage consultants, or gather evidence by way of subpoena or otherwise. Contact the team at Executive Lawyers today on (03) 8376 6209.

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