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drink driving

A Guide for Anyone Charged With Drink Driving

  • Hounsell Cunningham Criminal Defence Lawyers
  • August 23, 2019

Drink driving, or driving under the influence (DUI), is a serious offence in Queensland and carries with it serious consequences. If you are charged with drink driving, you will face a range of penalties including fines, loss of your licence, loss of your job, and even imprisonment.

Even though these consequences are serious and very real, we are wll aware that many law abiding citizens can have a momentary lapse in judgement and find themselves facing a charge of drink driving. We wanted to set the record straight on the charge of DUI in the hopes that it helps you avoid a penalty of this nature.

Been charged with DUI? Hounsell Cunningham are here to ensure that your rights are protected in your matter. We can provide the guidance and representation you need when you’re facing serious charges such as DUI.

For quality advice and representation, call us now on (07) 3180 0104. If you need us after hours, you can reach Nathan on 0406 661 449 or Mitchell on 0419 975 118.


Queensland Drink Driving Limits

The legislation that relates to Queensland DUI charges is found in the Transport Operations (Road Use) Management Act. This act is sometimes abbreviated to the TORUM. In the TORUM, there are four alcohol limits, and they are as follows:


No alcohol limit (0.00% or above)

This applies to learner drivers, people on their provisional licence, and people on a restricted licence. You are also required to have a zero blood alcohol content (BAC) if you drive a cab, an Uber, a tow truck, a truck, a tractor, or a limousine. It is possible to drive with alcohol present even if you had drinks the night before, and a reading of even 0.01% will be classified as having alcohol present in your blood. A Drink driving charge while over the no alcohol limit carries a mandatory suspension period of at least three months. You won’t be able to apply for a work licence either.


General alcohol limit (0.05% or above)

If you hold a general Queensland driver licence and exceed the general alcohol limit, this is an offence of Drink driving. The guideline of one drink per hour for women and two drinks in the first hour and one every hour after that is somewhat flawed. People can have different alcohol readings depending on their body and other factors. If you are found to have driven while over the 0.05% limit, you will be suspended from driving for at least one month. You might however be eligible for a work licence if you meet the other necessary requirements.


Middle alcohol limit (0.10% or above)

Driving over the limit of 0.10% means that you are driving over the middle limit. This is a more serious driving offence, and you are going to be facing a charge of disqualification for at least three months. You will also be immediately disqualified from driving until your matter is finalised in court. Again, if you meet the criteria, you may be successful in an application for a work licence.


High alcohol limit (0.15% or above)

This is a serious offence and sees you driving with a BAC of over 0.15%. You are going to be facing a minimum disqualification of six months, and it is up to the court to decide on the time frame. There is no maximum disqualification period in place, which means a judge can award as much time as they see fit. You may also see other penalties in place like community service, imprisonment, or probation. You are not eligible to apply for a work licence.


Charged with DUI – What Now?

When you have been charged with drink driving, you are probably going to be disqualified from driving as part of your punishment (unless you are eligible for a work licence). But you may also be hit with an immediate suspension until your matter reaches court. This will depend on your reading. Suspension periods range in length depending on the seriousness of the DUI charge.

Less than 0.10% BAC

In this case, your licence will be suspended immediately for 24 hours. After this period of time, you can begin driving again until the date of your court appearance. Do not drive while you are under a 24-hour suspension, as you face a disqualification of six months as a mandatory sentence.

0.10% or higher BAC

In this case, you are going to have your licence suspended immediately until your matter is heard in court. This will likely be when you plead guilty in court and have your licence disqualified. If you drive while suspended in this time frame, you face a minimum of two years disqualification.

If you are pleading not guilty or there is going to be a significant delay in your matter be finalised in court, and you require your licence for work, you may be able to apply for an interim work licence. Please note however that you only have 21 days from the time of your arrest to make this application.


Your Day in Court

You are going to get a date set for your matter to be heard in the Magistrates Court. This is called a Notice to Appear. This will set out a date at which you will need to arrive on time and have your matter heard by a Magistrate. If you opt for criminal law representation, this will make your process a whole lot smoother. Unrepresented parties go after the people who have chosen to get representation so you will save time in being represented by a lawyer.

  • When you are in court, you can plead guilty or not guilty.
  • The Magistrate is going to make a decision about the type of penalty you should get (which might be a fine and disqualification).
  • Depending on your history, you may also be at risk of imprisonment.
  • You can make an application for a work licence, for which you will need to seek an adjournment to have the time to prepare your work licence application. Or, you may have already gathered the necessary documents and can submit your work licence application on the day to the Magistrate.
  • The Magistrate may decide to record a conviction for your matter, or may decide not to.


Contesting Your Matter in Court

If you do not believe that you are guilty of your charge of drink driving or DUI, then it is possible to take your matter to trial. If you are considering this, it is important that you seek legal advice and representation. You may be able to defend your matter if the device or reading is inaccurate, or if there is a delay in administering a second test for your BAC. You may also be able to argue that the presence of an intoxicating substance in your blood was the result of a mistake.

  • If you are seeking to take your matter to trial, you will need to plead not guilty and get a copy of the police brief of evidence in relation to your matter.
  • It is important to seek legal advice so that we can assess your matter and advise you on the likely outcome. We can also determine whether it is worth pleading not guilty or if you have a better potential outcome with pleading guilty and accepting a fine.


Your Minimum Disqualification Period

If you have been charged with drink driving, you face a mandatory disqualification period. This will depend on how much your BAC was at the time.

Alcohol Reading

Length of time disqualified from driving

Between 0.05 and 0.10% One to nine months
Between 0.10 and 0.15% Three to twelve months
Over 0.15% Six months or more
No limit BAC detected Three to nine months


While these figures represent a first offence, they can increase if you are a repeat offender, or if there are other compounding factors involved in the charge.

If you have been previously been charged with a drink driving offence in the previous 5 years, these periods of disqualification increase depending on your readings.


Contact Us Today for Representation in Your Drink Driving Matter

The consequences of being found guilty of drink driving can range from the minor (a fine and disqualification for driving) to the serious (imprisonment). Criminal lawyer representation can be the difference between a successful application for a work licence and failing to succeed. We are here to help you when you are charged with drink driving, so contact us today for advice you can count on.

Call us now on (07) 3180 0104. If you need us after hours, you can reach Nathan on 0406 661 449 or Mitchell on 0419 975 118.

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