With the Christmas festivities in full swing and everyone heading off to functions it is probably timely for me to address the issue of driving under the influence and the Law.
At Welden & Coluccio Lawyers we enjoy a nice drop of whiskey. That said; we are strong advocates for ‘all things being enjoyed in moderation’. Without sounding too preachy, over-indulgence leads to a host of issues, not to mention the legal implications, should things go awry. I want to briefly summarise the current laws in South Australia related to drinking and driving.
With regards to drink driving there are two types of offences. The first; driving over the limit; means that you were driving (or attempting to drive) a motor vehicle with more than the prescribed amount of alcohol in your system. The amount of alcohol permitted varies. For learner and probationary drivers this is nil. Full licence holders must not exceed 0.05. Since alcohol affects people differently it is critical to understand that whether or not your ability to drive is impaired is irrelevant. Learner and probationary drivers should exercise special caution with regards to this. Theoretically, consumption of Nonna’s famous tiramisu could result in positive reading with serious implications.
One of the things we don’t always remember during this time of year that if you are relying on your children who are on their L’s or P1’s to drive you, as the qualified supervising driver for your children, it is important to know that you must be seated immediately next to the learner driver and You must not have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 or more.
The second offence, driving under the influence, (DUI), means that you were driving (or attempting to drive) a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (or a drug). It warrants mentioning, that the reference to ‘drug’ is a general one that includes both legal and illicit drugs. With DUI offences the important thing to remember is that charges may be laid if you demonstrate incapacity to operate the vehicle. In other words if your demeanour and behaviour is such, that you act in such a way so as to appear drunk (slurred speech, loss of gross and fine motor functions, falling asleep, you smell like booze…..you get the idea).
Penalties for driving offences are varied, depending upon individual circumstances and prior offences. In general, minor offences result in the loss of demerit points (3) and a fine. More serious offences (that is higher blood alcohol concentrations) will result in more serious penalties; loss of demerit points (5-6 points depending) and fines. Of greater significance is the licence disqualification that follows, anywhere from 6-12 months minimum. In addition to these penalties police have the authority to impound your motor vehicle that you are driving regardless if the vehicle is registered in your name for 28 days.
While the best legal advice I have for you is to exercise care when drinking and driving, should you find yourself in this predicament please cooperate with the police and submit to a breath test as there are other offences that you can be charged should you refuse a breath test. You should be provided the opportunity to go to hospital and get you own blood test. If you are in any doubt as to the accuracy of the breath test, then you should take this opportunity to take the blood test.
Should your offence be serious, or should you be faced with a licence disqualification, the advice of a solicitor will likely prove a worthwhile investment in minimising the damage.
For legal counsel following charges for DUI or PCA related offences speak to Jason Coluccio, Maddalena Romano or the team at Welden & Coluccio Lawyers.