Drink Driving in Victoria

The offence of Drink driving in Victoria is a criminal matter. However a drink driving conviction is not always a criminal conviction. It depends on the type of charge. On the 29th day following a Traffic Infringement Notice (TIN) or upon a finding in court for an Exceed Prescribed Content of Alcohol charge, a conviction will be recorded on your VicRoads held record. It will not be a national criminal record held by police.

This will not label you as a “criminal” with future job applications. But it can affect travel to certain countries and may be considered in applications with government employers. It may also affect you any time you come before the court for any other matter. Therefore it’s important to have proper representation from a drink driving lawyer at court to avoid a conviction. The consequences of a conviction can go deeper than you initially realise. It will depend on the type of charges you are facing, which is another reason why it is extremely important to have an experience traffic lawyer on your side. To help you prepare and understand what applies to you.

What is Considered Drink Driving?

The Prescribed Content of Alcohol (PCA) allowed for those on a full licence is usually 0.05 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Unless you are a learner, truck driver, or on a probationary or restricted zero BAC requirement licence. For example, driving during a period where your car must be fitted with an interlock device.

If you exceed the PCA, you may be charged with:

  • DUI (Driving whilst under the influence of intoxicating liquor);
  • Exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol while driving;
  • Within 3 hours of driving, exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol after a breath test or blood analysis; and/or
  • Other related charges such as careless driving

A person is guilty of this offence if he or she drives a motor vehicle or is in charge of a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle. (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor s 49(1)(a))

Prescribed Content Level

Low-Range PCA
A person can be charged and convicted of a low range drink driving offence at the time they were stopped, their blood alcohol concentration was 0.05% or higher, but lower than 0.07%. The driver must be a holder of a license with a Zero BAC such as professional driver’s license, a learner’s permit or a probationary license. It also applies to drivers holding full licenses if they are aged below 26 years of age.

Mid-Range PCA
A person can be charged with and convicted of a mid-range drink driving offence when at the time they were stopped on the roadway, the concentration of alcohol in their blood was 0.07 or higher, but lower than 0.15%. All drivers regardless of the type of license they hold can be charged with and convicted of a mid-range drink driving offence.

High-Range PCA
High range drink driving is driving while under the influence of alcohol and not merely drink driving because high range drink driving means that the BAC reading was 0.15% or higher. This means that the driver was driving or in charge of a motor vehicle while their capacity to operate that motor vehicle was impaired by the alcohol in his blood.

This section applies the same limits as a PCA offence under s 49(1)(b) however extends to circumstances up to three hours after driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle.

Within 3 Hours

Within 3 hours of driving, exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol after a breath test or blood analysis s 49(1)(f)
This means that within three hours of driving, a person may be found guilty of this offence. Provided it can be shown that the concentration of alcohol is not solely due to consumption of alcohol that occurred after driving.

Drink Driving Penalties

Penalties for drink driving charges vary depending on several factors. Blood alcohol reading in conjunction with the number of previous offences.

Find out more about the current penalties here:

Can I defend the charge?

Drink driving in Victoria charges are difficult to defend but not impossible. Certain available defence (including new and novel defence) include Duress, Necessity, Emergency, Factual Dispute regarding the alleged reading, or most notably procedural disputes and technical errors, both with the procedure at the time and afterwards with the documentation compliance.

It is not a defence to say that you did not believe you were over the limit. Or that due to certain medications this was elevated beyond normal levels. Even if it was not possible for you to be aware that the medications could have the particular effect on your BAC. It must be the case that the reading itself was not the correct reflection of your true blood alcohol content at the time.

In certain circumstances there may be a defence if there is reason to believe the reading obtained by the device was incorrect or failed to provide an accurate reading due to operator error.

These defences are complex and highly technical. Therefore it is very important that you seek legal advice to find out whether you might have a defence to your charges or what can be done to achieve the best outcome for you in the circumstances.