Traffic Law

High Range PCA

The Law

A High Range PCA offence like all PCA offences is a drink driving charge that requires the police to prove that the driver had in his or her breath (or in his or her blood) a "prescribed concentration of alcohol" (PCA). The prescribed concentration of alcohol for a this offence is any amount of 0.15 and above.

Pursuant to section 110(5) of the Road Transport Act, a person must not, while there is present in the person’s breath or blood the high range prescribed concentration of alcohol:

(a) drive a motor vehicle, or

(b) occupy the driving seat of a motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion, or

(c) if the person is the holder of an applicable driver licence - occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.

Penalties

The law holds that it is only under exceptional circumstances that an offender should avoid a conviction if found guilty of a High Range PCA offence. Therefore, it is an almost certainty that a person pleading guilty to or being found guilty of this offence will be convicted.

Upon conviction, there are mandatory penalties that apply to a High Range offence, which vary, depending on whether the offence is considered a "first offence" or "second or subsequent offence".

The penalties for High Range PCA are set out below:


Offences

Maximum Fine

Disqualification

Minimum Interlock Period


Maximum Gaol 

 

 

Automatic

Maximum

 

 

1st offence

$3,300

6 months

9 months


24 months

18 months

 

 

Automatic

Maximum

 

 

2 or more

$5,500

9 months

12 months


48 months

2 years

The Court has some discretion regarding penalties and is able to vary the fine payable and importantly (but to a limited extent) the disqualification periods. Our drink driving lawyers have the required experience to prepare your case and successfully argue and persuade Courts to apply leniency in sentencing.

Mandatory Interlock

Since February 2015, a Mandatory Interlock order is to be made by a Court when sentencing offenders for certain drink driving offences. An Interlock order, but for certain exemptions, must be made by a Court upon conviction for any High Range PCA offence, in addition to the disqualification period. Essentially, in addition to a period of time that a driver is disqualified from holding a licence and being allowed to drive, the driver must then obtain an Interlock licence and can only drive a car fitted with an Interlock device during the Interlock period.

Read here for more on Mandatory Interlock Orders.

Defences

It is possible, although difficult, to defend a drink driving charge. Defences can arise in the following circumstances:

- the driver was not driving 

- the driver was not attempting to put the vehicle in motion (if it is alleged that this is the offending conduct)

- the driver is able to prove that, at the time of the alleged offence, the driver's blood-alcohol level was below 0.15

- the police obtained a sample of breath more than 2 hours after the time the alleged offence was committed 

See an example of one of our lawyers running a successful defence to a high range drink driving charge.

Commentary

It must be understood that a High Range drink driving charge is considered a serious offence in NSW. It is common for people to be concerned about a losing their licence when charged with this offence, however, it is often the case that a disqualification period is a forgone conclusion and it becomes necessary to be realistic about the likely penalty to be imposed in addition to the disqualification period.

Although all High Range drink driving matters are considered serious, factors such as the blood-alcohol reading; the manner in which the offender drove; the offender's previous driving record and the amount of times the offender has previously been before a Court for a drink driving matter can increase the likelihood of a severe punishment, such as a term of imprisonment.

It is therefore important to obtain competent legal advice and representation when charged with drink driving to consider the prospects of defending the charge and/or taking all necessary steps to reduce the penalties that may be imposed.

If you have been charged with a High Range PCA offence, we invite you to contact us at your nearest Prime Lawyers office to speak to one of our experienced solicitors.

We have offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.

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