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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Drink Driving & DUI Offences Do you get a criminal record for drink driving in Australia?

    Do you get a criminal record for drink driving in Australia?

    Drink driving offences subsumes a lot of sections that even encroach into different laws and Acts across the various States and Territories. In the case of a serious violation of the Traffic Act, you may be charged in court with the possibility of an imprisonment term.

    The answer is that more often than not, a Drink Driving offence will get you a criminal record and will in the majority of circumstances also show up on a police check result.

    What is a drink driving offence in Australia?

    Under the Australian Road and Traffic Acts or legislation, drink driving offences includes;

    • Driving above the Prescribed Content of Alcohol (PCA) offences, and
    • Driving under the influence (DUI) offences

    PCA offences are further broken into ranges, depending on; the Blood concentration or the type of license the driver holds.

    How to determine a PCA offence

    To determine the BAC level of the driver of a vehicle, the Police officers will flag the car to a stop and request the driver take a breath test. The results of the tests will influence the official to impose the necessary punishments communicated through "tickets”.

    1. For low range drink driving offences (less than 0.08)

    The officer will issue the “lesser” punishments of fines with/without a license disqualification.

    However, if the driver holds a Learner's permit, Probationary License or Professional Driver's License, they will get heavy fines if their Blood Alcohol level is above 0.00BAC

    1. Medium Range Drink Driving Offence (0.08 – 0.149).

    The Police may seize their license immediately for some periods (3 -12 months), and impose fines. If there is an aggravating circumstance, the Police will charge the driver to court.

    1. High Range Drink Driving offence

    This is the most severe form of drink driving offence in Australia. It means the driver was caught operating the vehicle with BAC levels over 0.15. The Police or Road Transport official will seize their license immediately and charge them to court if it does not issue heavy fines.

    Challenging a Drink Driving penalty

    When the Road Traffic or Police Officer imposes a penalty for a drink driving offence, you can choose to challenge it in court. However, if you lose your objection, the court will register it as a criminal record, and may even issue higher penalties.

    However, if you win the objection, the court may dismiss the case or reduce the penalty you are given.

    What is a DUI offence?

    Driving Under the Influence is pronounced by the Police through physical examination of the way the person handles a vehicle. Determining a DUI offence may/not require a breathalyzer test. The Police can conclude that a driver is under the influence by a driver;

    • Haphazard driving
    • Exceeding the speed limits
    • Intoxicated behaviours (slurred speeches, reckless driving, and co)

    If the police officer concludes that you are Driving Under the Influence, they will either impose an immediate fine or charge you to court.

    In court, you must defend your pleas or objection to the DUI charge. However, if the court finds you guilty of a DUI offence, they will impose the appropriate fines or/and license disqualification.

    In aggravating circumstances, the court will order an imprisonment term. Examples include;

    • Damaging properties
    • Causing an accident
    • DUI with a child in the vehicle

    All these decisions of the court will be recorded in your criminal record check certificate.

    Other Drink Driving related offences

    Other offences are committed concerning a drink driving charge and will attract appropriate penalties. Some of them include;

    Attacking a Police officer on duty

    It is a serious offence to attack a Police officer, and even worse while on a drink driving charge. The Offence of attacking a Police officer usually carries an imprisonment term depending on the degree of the assault.

    Refusing to take a breath/blood test

    If you refuse to take an on-the-spot breath test or a blood test at the station, you will be charged to court. All of the court sentencing on this matter will be recorded in your national criminal history.

    Engaging in a Police Chase

    If you refuse to obey a Police order to stop and instead engage in a car chase, you will be charged with a serious criminal offence. This charge may even include other driving charges like overspeeding, infractions, damage to property and obstruction of justice.

    Refusing to appear in court for your Drink Driving Charge

    If you refuse to appear in court on the date of your hearing, the court will impose the penalties in your absence and may charge you separately for contempt of court.

    What is a Criminal Record?

    A criminal record in Australia is a national database that contains all the criminal history of a person. It contains all;

    • Findings of guilt,
    • Convictions,
    • Sentencing,
    • Driving whilst disqualified,
    • Court fines and jail terms imposed in a courtroom.

    Any conviction the court has ever issued to you will be on your criminal history. And it remains there for life, except where removed by special orders like the Spent Convictions Scheme of Australia.

    What is a Traffic offence?

    Traffic offences are recorded in the traffic records and remain in the Police database. For traffic offences that end up in court, the traffic offence can be disclosed in an Australian Police Check result.

    A traffic record contains details of all;

    • Traffic infractions,
    • Tickets,
    • Parking fines,
    • Speeding tickets,
    • And other minor road offences.

    Traffic offences are settled on the spot (paying the fines), and rarely leads to license disqualification.

    A Traffic record will show;

    1. The date of the offence
    2. The name of the offence
    3. Amount remitted for fines
    4. The demerit points to the offence incurred
    5. Cautions that do not lead to fine

    Why a criminal record for drink driving is bad for you

    If you get a conviction for a drink driving offence, it can affect you in more ways than you think. In the short term, the court may;

    • Impose a demerit point to your license or disqualify you from driving for a period. During this time, it will be an offence for you to handle any vehicle
    • The court may also order an imprisonment term in serious cases
    • It may become difficult to obtain a commercial driving related job in Australia or pass a police check for the purpose of driver accreditation
    • You may have your license reviewed or withdrawn indefinitely
    • It records as a conviction on your criminal history.

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