In a small but significant change to drink driving laws, from 20 May 2019 offenders charged with first time, low range prescribed concentration of alcohol offences in NSW will be fined and have their licence suspended immediately for three months, rather than receive a Court Attendance Notice.
This results in such offenders needing to make a court election if they wish to ask the court to dismiss the charge and not record a conviction under s 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
It will also be available to such offenders to make a licence appeal to the Local Court, if they seek to avoid or reduce the period of suspension. A licence appeal can only be made after conviction. The offender has a conviction recorded either by paying the fine in the first instance, or by the court imposing a conviction where a court election is made and no section 10 dismissal is granted.
This means that from now on lawyers are unlikely to see some first time, low range PCA offenders at all, or at least not until after they have paid their fine and are seeking to appeal their licence suspension. As a licence appeal is a slightly different advocacy exercise to a drink driving plea, these changes will involve a re-calibration of the approach to advising and appearing for clients in first time, low range drink driving cases.
For more information, including the full details of penalties for drink driving offences which appear in the Appendix at the end of the commentary, see the By Lawyers Traffic Offences guide.