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Drink driving! Is it a criminal offence here in Queensland?

You've likely heard of drink driving before and the ramifications that come along with it. Is it a criminal offence here in Queensland? It sure is. Here we'll explain everything you need to know about drink driving here in Queensland.

Under the Transport Operations (Road Use) Management Act, it's an offence here in the Sunshine State to drive while over the legal alcohol limit.

When it comes to drinking alcohol and driving, there are four limits, they are:

  1. No alcohol limit – This is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of more than 0.00. For some drivers, such as P plates, they cannot legally drink any alcohol and drive, so their BAC must be 0.00 at all times.
  2. General alcohol limit - Is 0.05 or over. In Queensland, this is considered a low-range drink driving offence for drivers holding a full drivers licence.
  3. Middle alcohol limit – This is a BAC reading of 0.10 or over, and driving with this concentration of alcohol in your system is a mid-range drink driving offence.
  4. High alcohol limit – A high alcohol limit is a BAC of 0.15 or more. This is the most serious of all the drink driving offences and carries the harshest penalties.

Listed below is a breakdown of the alcohol limits to give you an idea of the consequences attached to each if any.

No alcohol limit

P1 and P2 licence holders along with restricted licence holders cannot have any alcohol in their system when they are driving. The same applies to those driving vehicles such as tractors, taxis, buses, tow trucks, limousines etc.

For these licence holders making the mistake of having even one drink and getting behind the wheel may see them lose their licence. Driving the next day after a big night is another way people get caught out. If this applies to you and you are pulled over with this reading, you may lose your licence for a minimum of 3 months and a fine. Your licence will be suspended on the spot for 24 hours. You can resume driving after this until your court date where you will be formally charged.

General alcohol limit

If there are no limitations on your driver's licence, you fall under the general alcohol limit, and this means you can drive with alcohol in your system however, it must be under 0.05%. You may have heard of the alcohol guidelines that state that a man can consume 2 standard alcoholic drinks in the first hour and one each hour thereafter. For women, it's one standard drink per hour. Many factors can affect the rate that your body breaks down alcohol, and for this reason, the guidelines should never be used as an indicator of whether you are over the legal limit or not. If you plan on having a few drinks, organise alternative arrangements to get home to be sure. Being convicted of a low-range drink driving charge carries a one-month minimum disqualification period and a fine. You may be able to apply for a work licence. Your licence will be immediately suspended by the police for 24 hours. After this, you can drive again until your court date.

Middle alcohol limit

A middle alcohol limit is having a BAC of 0.10 or over. It is considered a serious driving offence that carries harsh penalties. Here in Queensland, you will lose your licence for a minimum of 6 months, and you will receive a fine as well. Your driver's licence will be suspended by police immediately, and this will be enforced until your court date.

High alcohol limit

Having a high alcohol limit while driving is a serious charge, and the courts here in Queensland take a tough stance against such offences. For a BAC of 0.15% or over, you will receive a minimum 6-month licence loss and a fine. Your car may also be fitted with an alcohol interlock device. You cannot apply for a work licence with a high range drink driving charge.

Is it an offence to drink alcohol while driving?

Drinking alcohol while driving is illegal. Under Section 300A of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation, it is an offence regardless of whether you are under the legal limit or not.

Factors that can influence your BAC

Many things can affect your BAC, here are some common ones:

  1. Your metabolism
  2. How old you are
  3. Whether you are male or female
  4. If you have eaten or not
  5. Your body type
  6. How your body tolerates alcohol
  7. The strength of your drinks

Other penalties from drink driving

It's not only a disqualification period and a fine you can receive from drink driving. Some other penalties include:

  1. Community service
  2. Probation
  3. Imprisonment
  4. A conviction recorded
  5. Alcohol interlock device installed in your car

Will I have a conviction recorded against me for drink driving?

This is a common question, and understandably so, no one wants a conviction recorded against them. When pleading guilty or being found guilty of a drink driving offence, the Magistrate will need to determine whether a conviction will be recorded against your traffic history. The decision is at the discretion of the Magistrate, and if it is something you are concerned about, you should seek legal advice as soon as you can.

If you are facing a drink driving charge here in South East Queensland and need to speak to a lawyer that specialises in this area of the law, contact our highly skilled team here at Drink Driver Lawyer!