Drink-Driving (PCA) Frequently Asked Questions:
25 Mar 2019
Driving with Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) Offences are some of the most common offences that we deal with in the Local Court. Although they’re common, a PCA offence can have wide-reaching impacts, especially for people in rural areas. For many people, a PCA charge is the first (and only) time they will interact with the criminal justice system, and so it can be confusing for many. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about PCA and other drink-driving charges.
What are the penalties?
If convicted, the maximum penalties for PCA offences range from fines for low range offences, to 2 years imprisonment for a second or subsequent high range PCA offence. You should seek legal advice as to what penalty you are likely to receive in your case.
Will I be disqualified from driving if I am convicted?
Yes. The Road Transport Act provides for automatic disqualification periods if you are convicted of a PCA offence (as well as for other types of offences). In some circumstances, the court may reduce or increase the disqualification period from the automatic period, but it may not reduce it below the minimum disqualification period in the Road Transport Act.
For many offences, the mandatory interlock scheme applies. This means that after you have served an initial disqualification period, you will only be able to drive a vehicle with an interlock device fitted, for a period of time.
If you are not convicted then you may be able to avoid a period of disqualification. You should seek legal advice as to whether this is available in your case.
What’s a ‘section 10’?
In exceptional cases, the Court can find that an offence is proven, but then not proceed to conviction. The court can do this with no further consequences, or it can impose a Conditional Release Order, which is a type of good behaviour bond. If you breach that bond then you may be convicted and re-sentenced for the original offence.
If you are not convicted, then you may be able to avoid the period of disqualification.
Non conviction orders are rare and you should seek legal advice before deciding whether to ask the court for one.
What happens when I go to court?
When you go to court, you will usually need to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to your PCA charge. You should seek legal advice before going to court. If you have a lawyer representing you, then they may make submissions on your behalf.
What is the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program?
The Traffic Offenders Intervention Program is a court approved program that educates offenders on the risks of drink-driving and other traffic offences. In some circumstances, the court may have regard to the fact you have completed this program in determining your sentence.
The information above is general information only and is not legal advice. If you have been charged with a PCA, DUI or any other offence, you can call us on 6752 2244 for an obligation-free quote. Our lawyers regularly appear in Moree Local Court, Narrabri Local Court, Boggabilla Local Court, Mungindi Local Court, Wee Waa Local Court and Inverell Local Court on PCA and other driving matters.