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HIGH RANGE DRINK DRIVING (PCA)
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HIGH RANGE DRINK DRIVING (PCA)

The offence of high range PCA is committed by a person who drives a motor vehicle on a public road with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.150 or above. The maximum penalty for a first offender is the recording of a criminal conviction, imprisonment for 18 month, a fine of 30 penalty units and an automatic licence disqualification for 3 years. The maximum penalty for a repeat offender is the recording of a criminal conviction, imprisonment for 2 years, a fine of 50 penalty units and an automatic licence disqualification for 5 years.

 

Sentencing for high range drink driving matters is also regulated by the NSW Guideline Judgement for high range drink driving matters.

 

On 8 September 2004 the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal delivered a guideline judgment concerning the offence of high range PCA (prescribed concentration of alcohol.) The Court held that there were sufficient grounds set out by the Attorney General to issue a guideline judgment concerning high range PCA.

 

The decision of Spigelman CJ in the case of (1998) 45 NSW LR 209 provides an excellent summary of the practical effect of guideline judgements. Some of the passages from this judgment are set out below:

 

“Such guidelines are intended to be indicative only. They are not intended to be applied to every case as if they were rules binding on sentencing judges. Decisions of appellant courts on sentencing are not to be treated as binding precedents.

 

“In accordance with this approach, guideline judgments perform a limited role. Nevertheless, in my opinion, such judgments will provide a useful statement of principle to assist trial judges to ensure consistency of sentencing with respect of particular kinds of offences. I reiterate that such guidelines are not binding in a formal sense. They represent a relevant indicator, much as trial judges have always regarded statutory maximum penalties as an indicator.”

Table of Penalties for High-Range Drink Driving:

Penalty

First offence

Second or subsequent offence

Maximum court- imposed fine

$3,300

$5,500

Maximum prison term

18 Months

2 Years

Minimum disqualification

12 Months

2 Years

Maximum disqualification

Unlimited

Unlimited

Automatic disqualification (disqualification period that applies in the absence of a specific court order)

3 Years

5 Years

Immediate licence suspension

Yes

Yes

Subject to an alcohol interlock order

Yes

Yes

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