Traffic Law

Mid Range PCA

The Law

A Mid Range PCA offence is a drink driving offence that requires that a driver has present in his or her breath (or blood) the mid range "prescribed concentration of alcohol" (PCA), which is an amount of 0.08 and above, but below 0.15.

Pursuant to section 110(4) of the Road Transport Act, a person must not, whilst present in their breath or blood the middle range (mid 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 penalties for a Mid Range PCA offence can be severe and people are often surprised to learn that it is possible to go to gaol for a Mid Range offence. 


Offences

Maximum Fine

Disqualification

Minimum Interlock Period

Maximum Gaol 

 

 

Automatic

Minimum

 

 

1st offence

$2,200

12 months

6 months


-

9 months

 

 

Automatic

Maximum

 

 

2 or more

$3,300

6 months

9 months


24 months

12 months

The Court has some discretion regarding all drink driving penalties and is able to vary the fine payable and reduce the disqualification period. We understand what is required to persuade the Court to reduce a penalty. However, it must be noted that the automatic 12 month disqualification period for a first offence IS NOT the maximum period and that the Court has the discretion to actually increase the disqualification period beyond the automatic. 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. It must be noted that section 10 is not regularly applied to Mid Range charges.

Mandatory Interlock

Since February 2015, a Court must make a Mandatory Interlock order upon convicting someone for their "second or subsequent" Mid Range PCA offence. An Interlock order requires an initial period of disqualification for anywhere between 6 and 9 months. After that period, the offender will need to obtain an Interlock licence should they wish to return to the road. This licence is to be held for as long as the Court orders, which is at least for the minimum period listed in the above table.

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 police cannot prove that the driver was driving at the time of the alleged offence 

- 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 the driver's blood-alcohol level was below 0.08

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

Read more on how to defend a drink driving charge or our case study on a successful high range drink driving defence.

Commentary

As seen above, an available penalty to the Courts for any Mid Range offence is a term of imprisonment. Although this is an available penalty, it is the least likely result in most Mid Range matters that come before the Courts. However, a small percentage of offenders who have been convicted of Mid Range drink driving do go to gaol.

When sentencing an offender for a drink driving matter (or any serious traffic offence), the Court must consider "mitigating" and "aggravating" factors that are present in determining what the penalty should be. Aggravating factors are matters specific to the particular case that make the offending more serious and/or, place the offender in the more serious category of offender. The greater the aggravating factors, the more severe the penalty will be.

Examples of aggravating factors that the Court is to take into account in considering whether to impose a harsher penalty include:

- where the driver has driven erratically or had an accident

- where the blood-alcohol reading is at the higher end of the range

- where there are passengers in the car

- where the driver has committed other offences at the same time

- where the driver is a Provisional driver

It is therefore important to obtain competent legal advice and representation when charged with any drink driving offence, to firstly consider the prospects of defending the charge and to then ensure 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 or to defend a drink driving charges, in the rare circumstances that this can be achieved.

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

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

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