Traffic Law

How to Get a Section 10 for Drink Driving

Section 10 and Drink Driving

Being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (“DUI”) or for a prescribed concentration of alcohol drink driving offence (such as "Low Range PCA", "Mid Range PCA" or "High Range PCA") is considered a major traffic offence and is in fact a criminal offence. Being convicted of such an offence will not only impact on one’s ability to drive, but may also affect current and future employment prospects, travel plans (such as the ability to obtain a travel visa to certain countries) and also carry with it a permanent record of a criminal conviction. 

Fortunately, the Law recognises that there are circumstances in which a person should be entitled to avoid a conviction for drink driving and other criminal and traffic offences by the making of an order under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. An order under this section is commonly referred to a "Section 10 dismissal", and enables a Court upon a plea of guilty or finding of guilt to order the dismissal of charges without recording a conviction. The effect of this is the person committing the offence with not have a conviction for drink driving or other criminal or traffic offences recorded on their criminal record and will not face any penalty.

This can be especially important in DUI and drink driving matters, because on a plea or finding of guilt, it is the only way the person can avoid a disqualification period. (Read further on the more common drink driving penalties here). It must be borne in mind, however, that the sentencing principles that guide Magistrates in dealing with drink driving matters place more emphasis on punishing the offender for their offending, rather than excusing their behaviour for other reasons. 

How do I get a section 10?

An order under Section 10 is discretionary, and although there is no guaranteed path to obtain a drink driving section 10 we have identified the following top 4 points which will increase your chances of obtaining a section 10 and avoiding a conviction:

Point #1 as to how to get a section 10: Obtain references from people of good standing. 

A Court is much more likely to order a section 10 if the Court accepts that the conduct in question was out of character, an error of judgment, or innocent mistake. A Court is far more likely to accept the conduct as being out of character if references are obtained from people of good standing and known to you for a number of years, who can attest to your good character. While your best friend is likely to give a reference think about obtaining a reference from an older family member, employer or someone well respected in the community who is willing to attest to your good character. 

Point #2 as to how to get a section 10: Attend a course to address the behaviour concerned. 

If you have been charged with DUI it is advisable to enrol in the Traffic Offenders Programme, which is a programme designed to educate drivers as to the dangers and consequences of driving offences such as drink driving. Successful completion of this course before sentencing allows the Court to take into account that the offender has sought to avoid a future transgression by attending such a program and has taken steps to rehabilitation.

Point #3 as to how to get a section 10: Provide evidence of the likely impact of a conviction. 

If your current or future employment is in jeopardy because of a conviction for drink driving or other offence, then provide the Court with sufficient evidence of the likely consequence of a conviction. For example, if holding a licence is a requirement of employment then statements to this effect should be obtained from your employer, perhaps even with the inclusion of terms of the employment agreement or job requirements.

Point #4 as to how to get a section 10: Hire a good lawyer.

Magistrates see and hear dozens and  dozens of the same charges on an ongoing basis. To avoid simply becoming one of the crowd you need to ensure that you have legal representation that is able to explain to the Court why it should exercise its discretion and dismiss the charge under Section 10 for your particular case. Obtaining a good lawyer is often the difference between obtaining a Section 10 and not. Hire a lawyer knowledgeable in not only the law, but a lawyer that has experience in these types of offences; experience in obtaining section 10 for other clients charged with similar offences; and a lawyer who appears before, and knows the types of submissions likely to be welcomed and understood by the Magistrate who will be hearing your matter. Each case is unique and you need a lawyer skilled in all of these aspects to provide you with the best possible chance to obtain a section 10.

The traffic and criminal lawyers at Prime Lawyers appear each week in their local Courts and, where required, on appeal in the District Court. We are experienced in representing clients who have found themselves charged with serious traffic and criminal offences, often for the first time in their lives, and we are able to best represent you in Court to explain and address the Court on your conduct, and the reason why the Court should accept the most appropriate order to be a section 10 dismissal. 

We have Drink Driving Lawyers who represent clients in all of the Local Courts throughout the Sydney metro and beyond, and have offices for your convenience in Sydney, Chatswood, Parramatta, Sutherland and Wollongong. Get in touch with us now by clicking here to see how we can help you. 

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