‘Guideline Judgement’ on High Range Drink Driving
In 2004,the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal handed down a guideline judgement concerning high range drink driving.
A guideline judgement is a list general rules for courts to follow when sentencing someone for a specific offence.
Here are the guidelines for high range drink driving:
1. In ordinary cases of a first high range drink driving offence:
a. The automatic disqualification period should be adhered to, unless there is a valid reason to offer a reduced period of disqualification from driving
b. A section 10 dismissal or conditional release order will only be appropriate in rare cases
c. Attending, or planning to attend a driver awareness course, will not be sufficient to avoid a conviction.
Valid reasons for reducing the automatic disqualification period can include a lack of alternative forms of transport, the necessity of driving for employment purposes, and any poor health or infirmity on the part of the offender or anyone they are caring for.
2. In ordinary cases of a second or subsequent high range drinking offence:
a. A non conviction order is only appropriate in rare cases
b. A section 9 good behaviour bond is not sufficient punishment in most cases
c. Anything more lenient than a community service order is generally sufficient punishment where the previous offence was a high range PCA
3. There are a number of factors which can increase the moral culpability of a high range drink driving offender, including:
a. How long the journey was
b. How far above 0.15 their level of intoxication was
c. Whether they engaged in competitive driving, or showing off
d. If they were involved in a collision
e. If they drove aggressively or erratically
f. How many people were put at risk by their driving
4. Where the moral culpability of a first high range PCA offender is increased by more than one factor, generally a prison sentence or suspended prison sentence is most appropriate. A section 9 or non conviction order is extremely unlikely to be appropriate in this situation.
5. Where the moral culpability of a second or subsequent high range PCA offender is increased, the most appropriate penalty is imprisonment.
6. If there are two or more aggravating factors, or if the previous offence was high range PCA, full time imprisonment is considered to be the most appropriate sentence.
What is considered an ordinary case?
There are a number of factors which categorise a high range PCA offence as ‘ordinary’ including:
- The driver pleading guilty
- The driver being at little or no risk of reoffending
- There is no previous history of serious traffic offences
- The driver’s licence was suspended when the offence was detected
- The offence was discovered during a random breath test
- The driver can demonstrate prior good character
- Loss of licence would cause significant inconvenience to the offender
There are a few factors which can justify leniency on the part of the magistrate including:
- The driver has completed a traffic offender program
- The driver has a strong dependence on their licence
- If there were unforeseen circumstances, such as an emergency or safety concerns, which led the person to drive while intoxicated.
Working within these guidelines, Sydney Drink Driving Lawyers can help you get the most positive outcome for your high range drink driving case.