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High Range Drink Driving

If you receive a court attendance notice for high range PCA, it is likely that you will also receive an immediate police suspension notice. For individuals holding a NSW license, this means an immediate suspension where driving becomes prohibited. For those with international or interstate licenses, the authority to drive within NSW is suspended.


This suspension remains in effect until your case is resolved by the court. If you are contemplating appealing against an immediate police suspension, you can find additional information here. However, it’s important to note that appeals against immediate police suspensions are generally less successful compared to other types of license appeals. This is due to the higher legal standard that must be met.


You are required to demonstrate to the court that there are extraordinary circumstances justifying the return of your license. If your case is being heard in court, a successful appeal will only grant you the ability to drive until your case is finalised. It’s important to be aware that the court may still find you guilty and impose a disqualification period following a successful appeal. If you choose not to appeal, the court can consider the period of suspension when determining the length of your disqualification.


Before completing any paperwork or appearing in court, it is crucial to consult with a skilled traffic lawyer if you are facing charges of high range PCA. Our team of lawyers can provide the necessary assistance to defend you in court and minimise both the penalty and the duration of your disqualification. By contacting us promptly, you can explore the ways in which we can be of assistance to you.

In New South Wales (NSW), High Range PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol) refers to a specific offence related to driving under the influence of alcohol. PCA is a term used to describe the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit set for drivers. The high range category is the most severe level of PCA offence.


In NSW, a driver is considered to be in the high range if their BAC is equal to or exceeds 0.150 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. If a person is found driving with a high range PCA, they can face serious legal consequences, including criminal charges, penalties, and potential license disqualification.

The penalties for a high range drink driving charge are listed below:


High Range Penalties

High Range  

First offence

Second or subsequent


Maximum court-imposed fine



Maximum prison term

18 months

24 months

Minimum disqualification

12 months

2 years

Maximum disqualification



Automatic disqualification

3 years

5 years

Immediate licence suspension



Alcohol Interlock order



The High Range Drink Driving NSW Guideline Judgement provides guidance and standards for sentencing individuals charged with high range drink driving offences in New South Wales (NSW). The guideline assists magistrates in determining appropriate penalties based on various factors, such as blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, prior offences, and individual circumstances.


The judgment emphasises the seriousness of high range drink driving and acknowledges the potential dangers it poses to public safety. It considers factors such as the need for general deterrence, individual deterrence, and community protection when determining penalties.


While the specific penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of each case, the guideline serves as a reference for magistrates to ensure consistency and fairness in sentencing high range drink driving offences in NSW.

If you haven’t been involved in any other serious traffic violations within the past five years, you will be subjected to an automatic disqualification period of three years and a maximum fine of $3,300.


Moreover, there exists a maximum prison sentence of 18 months for this offence.


However, the magistrate has the authority to decrease the duration of your disqualification to a minimum of 12 months if they choose to do so.


For individuals facing a second or subsequent major offence within a span of 5 years, the maximum penalty for a High Range PCA offence includes a fine of $5,500.00, an unlimited maximum disqualification period, and an automatic disqualification period of 5 years. The minimum disqualification period that a Magistrate can impose is 2 years.


In cases where you are convicted for High Range drink, mandatory Interlock orders may be issued for a period of up to 48 months.

If you are issued with a Court Attendance Notice, you will be required to attend the Local Court. The first date is known as a mention.


During the mention date, you will have the opportunity to inform the court about your plea, whether it’s guilty, not guilty, or if you require an adjournment. Opting for a guilty plea might allow for same-day sentencing, but it’s generally advisable to be well-prepared before taking this course of action. If you enter a not guilty plea, a hearing date will be scheduled several weeks later.


If you are contemplating a not guilty plea for a drink driving charge, it is crucial to be familiar with the available defences for such offences. Additionally, you can request the court to adjourn your case for a short period, typically two to four weeks, to consult with a lawyer, gather references, and participate in an approved traffic offenders program.


Defending drink driving offences in New South Wales can be challenging due to the utilisation of precise instruments and procedures by the Police to detect alcohol levels exceeding the legal limit in an individual’s system.


There exist several potential defences for a High Range drink driving offence:


  • Breath analysis conducted beyond the two-hour timeframe. According to the law, breath analysis must be conducted within two hours of driving.
  • Police conducting a breath test at your home. The law prohibits the police from demanding a breath test from a driver at their residence, including any part of the property.
  • Challenging the identification of the driver. Similar to any criminal offence, the burden of proof rests on the police to establish that you were indeed the individual who committed the offence.

Please note that these are general defences, and the applicability of each defence may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

High range PCA is a significant criminal offence that will likely result in a criminal conviction. Such a conviction will be reflected on your criminal record and be visible during criminal background checks. Typically, there are only two methods to avoid a criminal conviction for high range drink driving.


Firstly, you have the option to plead not guilty and have the case dismissed if your plea is successful. Alternatively, you can convince the court to find you guilty but refrain from recording a conviction in your case.


Having a criminal conviction recorded can have severe consequences. For instance, during the standard recruitment process, most employers conduct background checks, which often include a police check. Through a police check, employers can discover if you have a criminal conviction and the specific charge associated with it. This information can significantly impact their decision on whether or not to hire you.


In certain professions, it is necessary to report a criminal conviction to a regulatory body. For example, members of the legal profession must inform the relevant law society about any criminal convictions. The law society then assesses whether the legal practitioner should be allowed to continue practising law.


Additionally, a criminal conviction may pose obstacles to future international travel. Many countries require visitors to obtain a visa prior to entry. As part of the visa application process, applicants are typically required to disclose any criminal convictions. Depending on the visa policies of the specific country, the presence of a criminal record may influence whether the visa is granted or not.

The drink driving laws in NSW are complex and the information about the penalties, fines, sentences, and period of licence disqualification of the different drink driving offences may be overwhelming. 


Contact Lyons Law Group to speak to an expert traffic lawyer in Sydney for assistance with any of the above drink driving offences. 

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