If you have gone over your prescribed alcohol limit before driving in Victoria, you will be charged with drink driving. If this is your first offence, you should familiarise yourself with the traffic law process for drink driving.
On your charge sheet, there will be more information under ‘details of the offence’. This information will be read against you in court, so it would be good for you to familiarise yourself with it.
Will I be charged with drink driving?
The prosecution need to prove that your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was higher than your prescribed level and that you were driving a motor vehicle at the time.
Your BAC level is prescribed according to your drivers licence. A full drivers licence in Victoria has a 0.05 BAC level.
If you want to challenge the drink driving charge, you need to prove that the testing device was either not working or not used correctly. For example, you would have a defence if you were tested more than three hours after you were driving.
What are my options?
If you agree that you broke the law, you need to tell the court that you plead guilty. You still need to go to court, where they will provide a penalty. Pleading guilty can be a sign of cooperation, and could result in a less severe penalty.
If you disagree that you broke the law, you will need to tell the police prosecutor that you plan to plead not guilty. A summary case conference is heard before your court date, which you will need to attend.
If you still wish to plead not guilty after the summary case conference, the magistrate will adjourn your case for another day, when you come back to court for a contested hearing. The court will hear evidence from you and the police at the contested hearing before making a decision.
If you plead not guilty, make sure you have a defence. Remember, it is never enough to say that you didn’t know that you were breaking the law or that you didn’t know you were over the limit.
Its important that you obtain legal advice before you plead either guilty or not guilty.
Penalties for drink driving
The penalty for drink driving in Victoria varies according to how far over your BAC level was. In most cases, your drivers licence will be cancelled for at least six months and you will be disqualified from driving.
The magistrate can increase your disqualification period, but even they are not allowed to reduce it according to traffic law in Victoria.
Disqualification periods are doubled for your second offence.
There are no special drivers licences that allow you to drive for special occasions or for work. So if your employment or your family depend on your having a drivers licence, you will need to find alternatives that do not involve you driving.
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