For most of our clients the most important question they have when they contact us is what will be the penalty for my high range drink driving charge?
It is as you would imagine it’s a difficult question to answer. What penalty a court in Queensland will impose for a high range drink driving charge depends on a number of factors all discussed below.
DUI, UIL and high range drink driving what’s the difference?
In practice DUI, UIL and high range all refer to the same thing. DUI is driving under the influence, its term more associated with America rather than Australia but has been gaining more popularity over the years.
UIL means under the influence, it is largely being replaced by the term DUI but it is the more correct term used in Queensland and the term used in the law and in court.
High range drink driving is a term commonly used in the court and by lawyers and prosecutors. It can be used interchangeably with UIL.
How long will my licence be disqualified for?
With a high range driving charge the absolute minimum disqualification period is 6 months (if you have no other drink driving or similar charges in the last 5 years) and there is no upper limit. The court can and likely will impose a fine and if the circumstances are such more severe penalties.
The actual penalty depends on a number of factors including;
- Your reading
- Did a crash occur
- Was someone else in the car
- Why you were driving
- Your traffic and criminal history
- Your personal and work situation
- If you done a course like QTOP
- What Magistrate hears your matter
Your Blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in your body and is measured by the concentration on alcohol in your breath or blood. It is measured in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Your reading will be over .15 if you are charged with drink driving. The actual reading is a very important factor the Magistrate looks at when setting the penalty.
Did a crash occur
If there was a crash then this will increase the penalty. This is especially true if other property was damaged or someone else was hurt in the crash.
Was someone else in the car
If someone else was in the vehicle then this may be a factor that the Magistrate takes into account as they would be concerned someone else was at risk.
Why you were driving
Why you were driving may be a factor. If you were shifting the car a short distance or had been driving for a long period may affect the penalty.
Your traffic and criminal history
This is an important factor. Your previous criminal and traffic history will be looked at closely by the Magistrate. If you have previous drink driving charge this will almost certainly increase the penalty. If the previous drink driving charge occurred in the last 5 years, and the police have served a notice to allege previous offences then the minimum disqualification will be increased. For example if you had a low range drink driving charge in the last 5 years then the minimum disqualification increases from 6 months to 9 months disqualification. Remember this is just the minimum disqualification the court can impose, they can impose penalties much higher than this.
Your personal and work situation
Your personal antecedents such as your personal and work situation will be taken into account by the Magistrate in setting the penalty. This includes the impact the disqualification will have on your family and any impact on your ability to work. If you are going to be restricted in your personal life or you will lose your job this is relevant factors for the Magistrate to consider.
If you done a road safety course
The recommended course in Queensland is QTOP
What Magistrate hears your matter
All the Magistrates in Queensland try and be consistent in setting a penalty. In the ideal world this would mean you would get largely the same penalty whether your charges are heard in Southport Court, Beenleigh Court, Brisbane Court, Maroochydore court, Rockhampton court, Mackay Court or Townsville Court.
In practice each Magistrates has their own views on what the penalty for a high range drink driving charge should be. This is one of the main reasons an experienced traffic lawyer who has appeared numerous times before the Magistrate is so important.
What other penalties will the court impose?
In almost all cases the court will also impose a fine. In addition there is an offender levy that everyone must pay.
In cases where the reading is very high or where there was an accident or if the person has other drink driving charges the court may consider imposing
Will I go to prison?
Generally first time offenders would not be likely to be sent to prison however this depends on a number of factors including;
- Was there a crash
- Was any other cars or property damaged
- Was anyone injured
- What the blood alcohol reading was
- If the person has a poor traffic history
- Which Magistrate hears the matter
Only an experienced traffic lawyer can advise if a prison sentence is likely, even if it is the courts have the option of potentially suspending that sentence. If you are worried about a prison sentence then get legal advice.
What can I do to minimise the penalty?
You should always engage an experienced traffic lawyer to represent you if charged with high range drink driving. Your lawyer can work out what things you need to do to reduce your penalty especially considering what Magistrate might be hearing your case. In general we have found the following things useful in trying to reduce the penalty:
- Character references
- Attending a driving course like Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (“QTOP”). We are a proud sponsor of QTOP and believe it is one of the most powerful things people facing a high range drink driving charge can do before their court date.
- If you have any alcohol or mental health issues then obtaining appropriate medical help
Can I get a work licence?
No, with a high range drink driving charge you cannot apply for a work licence.
Should I get a Traffic Lawyer to represent me?
In a word, yes this is not an offence where you should simply turn up to the Court without a lawyer. The consequences and penalties the Court may impose are too serious not to seek to minimise the penalty by having a drink driving lawyer with you.
Engaging Clarity Law to act for you
Engaging us gives you the best chance at obtaining the lowest disqualification period and a fine as low possible. We are the leading drink driving law firm in South East Queensland, virtually everyday our lawyers are in Court getting the best outcome for clients. Since 2010 we have appeared in over 1,500 drink driving cases and no one has the experience we do. Just some of the benefits of us acting for you for your drink driving charge include;
- we know the Magistrates and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome
- we have good relationships with the Police prosecutors meaning we can often have them not object to the Court imposing the minimum disqualification period applicable.
- we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in Court
- engaging us shows the Court you are taking your charges seriously
- your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
- you will be fully informed of what is to happen in Court and what this means for you after Court
- unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests
What Courts do you appear in?
We appear in every Court in South East Queensland. Just some of the Court we appear in are;
We have offices at;
What do you charge?
We charge a flat upfront fee for our services, that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills. Our fees are clearly posted on our website so that you know exactly what your costs will be.
To see what we will charge for a guilty plea to a drink driving charge click here
If I contacted you what would occur?
If you contact us then likely Steven Brough the firms founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your charge, all at no cost.
If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your charge. Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. Everyone of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them.
How do I get more information or engage you to act for me?
If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
- use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you atleast have more information about drink driving. You wont be chased or hounded to engage us. Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, a drink driving charge no matter the reading will have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business.
Need more information?
We have a range of articles on drink driving on our blog. Some of the most recent have included:
- Top 5 Drink Driving Myths
- The Essential Guide to Obtaining a Work Licence
- Drink Driving on a Lime Scooter
- How Drink Driving Matters are Heard in Queensland
- What happens after your drivers licence is disqualified?
- Refusing a Breathalyser Test in Queensland
- Can you commit a drink driving offence in your driveway?
- Immediate suspension for drink driving
- Case Study - High Range Drink Driving and Disqualified Driving
- Three High Range Drink Driving Charges
- Special Hardship Orders v Work Licences
- High Range DUI
- Going through a drink driving charge in Brisbane Magistrate Court
- DUI Charges
- Ultimate Guide to High Range Drink Driving
We have available the most comprehensive factsheet about high range drink driving charges in Queensland. Use the link below to download it.
This article general information only and not legal advice and is written subject to our disclaimer that can be read by clicking here
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