What are the drink-driving laws in NSW?

Published 24 Oct 2018

Australia has one of the worst rates of drink-driving in the world, according to recent figures from Budget Direct. An estimated 30 per cent of road traffic deaths in the country involve alcohol, putting Australia in fourth place for drink-driving fatalities around the world.

Closer to home in NSW, there were around 517 fatal crashes involving alcohol from 2008 to 2016, according to the NSW Government.

But what are the specific laws surrounding drink driving in NSW?

The law on drink-driving in NSW

Despite drink-driving being a common problem, a considerable amount of Australians aren't fully aware of the drink-driving laws. The same Budget Direct report revealed that one in three men do not know what the national drink-driving limit is, compared to one in five women. A further one in five admits they have driven a vehicle in the past despite being unsure if they were above the limit.

What are the limits?

There are three blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits in NSW:

  • Zero.
  • Under 0.02.
  • Under 0.05.

Determining which limit applies to an individual depends on licence category and the type of vehicle being driven. However, under 0.05 is the limit that applies to the majority of drivers in NSW.

The BAC measures the amount of alcohol in a person's system in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. For example, if someone has a BAC rating of 0.06, they have 0.06 grams (60 milligrams) of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood.

What are the penalties?

For drivers with a BAC of 0.15 and above, the penalties are as follows:

Penalty First offence Second offence
Maximum court-imposed fine $3,300 $5,500
Immediate licence suspension Yes Yes
Maximum prison term 18 months Two years
Minimum disqualification 12 months Two years

For drivers with a BAC of 0.08 to less than 0.15, the penalties are as follows:

Penalty First offence Second offence
Maximum court-imposed fine $2,200 $3,300
Immediate licence suspension Yes Yes
Maximum prison term Nine months 12 months
Minimum disqualification Six months 12 months

The NSW Government has recently passed a new legislation covering the penalties associated with low-range drink-driving offences. Under the new rules, all drivers who commit a low-range drink driving offence will be fined $561 and lose their licence immediately, for three months. The new legislation will come into play at the end of the year in the hopes the tightened changes will reduce the amount of drink-driving accidents and casualties. 

If you've suffered at the hand of a drink-driver, get in touch with the team at Malouf Solicitors today to see how we can help.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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