Traffic Law

Low Range PCA

The Law

A Low Range PCA offence like all PCA offences is a drink driving charge where the police need to prove that the driver has present in his or her breath (or blood) the "prescribed concentration of alcohol" (PCA) for that offence. The prescribed concentration of alcohol for a Low Range PCA offence is an amount of 0.05 and above, but below 0.08.

Pursuant to section 110(3) of the Road Transport Act, a person must not, while there is present in the person’s breath or blood the low 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 overall penalties for a Low Range PCA offence are not as severe as they are for other types of drink driving offences. However, as with most other drink driving offences, mandatory disqualification periods still apply. 

The penalties that apply to Low Range PCA offences are as follows:


Offences

Maximum Fine

Disqualification

Minimum Interlock Period

Maximum Gaol 

 

 

Automatic

Minimum

 

 

1st offence

$1,100

6 months

3 months


-

-

 

 

Automatic

Maximum

 

 

2 or more

$2,200

1 month

3 months


12 months

-

The Court has some discretion regarding all drink driving penalties and is able to vary the fine payable and importantly, vary the disqualification period. Of course, in suitable cases, the Court can decide to not convict the driver and instead, dismiss the charge pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. Should the Court dismiss the matter pursuant to section 10, then no fines or disqualification periods apply.

Mandatory Interlock

Since February 2015, a Court must make a Mandatory Interlock order upon convicting someone for their "second or subsequent" Low Range drink driving offence. Essentially, in addition to a period of time that a driver is disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence, 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.

Commentary

It is a common misconception that anyone who goes before the Court for their first Low Range Drink Driving PCA matter will not receive a conviction and have their matter dealt with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. 

This misconception often results in many drivers going to Court self-represented with the false belief that they will achieve the desired result just for attending or, if the driver decides to obtain the services of a lawyer, to simply find someone cheap (who may or may not have the required experience in traffic law and drink driving matters) who will "guarantee" the result, without having the required expertise, knowledge or a proper understanding of the Court's approach to these matters. Every case is different and the advice given and approach taken by a lawyer must be tailored to the specific circumstances of the case. 

It is therefore important to obtain competent legal advice and representation when charged with Low Range drink driving, to firstly consider the prospects of defending the charge and then in ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to reduce the penalties that may be imposed. Our drink driving lawyers have the required experience to prepare your case and successfully argue and persuade Courts to apply leniency in sentencing and provide you with the best chance of having your matter dismissed pursuant to section 10.

If you have been charged with a Low Range PCA offence, we invite you to contact one of our Drink Driving Lawyers Sydney and NSW.

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


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