It is widely known that driving under the influence is a serious offence with a range of associated penalties. It is important to note that from 20 May 2019 penalties for low range novice and special range drink driving will be strengthened to create harsher punishments for all road users. The aim of the stricter regime is to further deter individuals from driving under the influence and to reduce alcohol or substance abuse related trauma on our roads in New South Wales.

What is the Current Law?

Low range drink driving involves driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level between 0.050 and 0.079 (Less for Special .02 and Novice 0). Current laws in NSW stipulate that you will be disqualified from driving where a court convicts you of 'low range drink driving'. Therefore, at the time of the offence no immediate suspension of licence exists until you go to court and it is ordered by a magistrate. However in certain circumstances, the court can also utilise their discretion (provided certain criteria are met) and not convict you for the offence, but instead deal with the offence under a Conditional Release Order or an (old section 10). If this was to happen, you will not be disqualified from driving and a conviction will not be recorded against your name.

What are the changes to the law?

The new laws are giving the NSW Police power to issue an immediate on-the-spot three month licence suspension notice and fine of $561 for first time novice, special or low range drink driving offences. Furthermore first time drug drivers with the presence of illicit drugs in their system will receive a $561 fine and an on-the-spot 3 month licence suspension if the offence is confirmed by laboratory analysis. If it is a second or subsequent offence the penalties and disqualification period increase

Why are the changes coming into force?

The NSW Government's rationale behind implementing new laws is to reduce the current pressures on the state's court system. These new laws have created a streamlined process that provides swift and certain penalties to low range drink drivers. In addition, these new laws are seeking to increase deterrence of the community and decrease offence and recidivism rates. Melinda Pavey the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight stated the new laws that have been employed are "about driving home to the community that there are no more excuses". Further she stated that the message to the community is clear, "have a Plan B. Because if you drink drive, you will be caught, and you will lose your licence".

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