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What Is a DUI Charge In NSW?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) refers to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and it is taken very seriously by the NSW Police and the judicial system. There are a range of drink driving laws and penalties in NSW.

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Driving Under The Influence in NSW

DUI charges in NSW are governed by the Road Transport Act 2013 and the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1977. These acts outline the offences, prescribed alcohol limits, testing procedures, and legal consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


In NSW, drivers are subject to specific blood alcohol concentration limits. For full license holders, the general limit is 0.05% Blood alcohol levels (BAC), while for learners, provisional, and professional drivers, the limit is zero. Commercial drivers carrying dangerous goods have an even stricter limit of 0.02% BAC.


Low-Range PCA


Refers to driving with a BAC between 0.05% and 0.079%. It is considered the least serious DUI offence but can still lead to penalties and consequences.


Mid-Range PCA


Involves driving with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.149%. This offence carries more severe penalties than low-range PCA.


High-Range PCA


Occurs when a driver has a BAC of 0.15% or higher. This is a serious offence, and the penalties are significantly more severe.

The penalties for a DUI conviction in NSW can vary depending on the circumstances, prior offences, and the level of intoxication. Penalties may include:


  • Fines: Imposition of fines that can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
  • License Disqualification: Mandatory license disqualification periods, which can range from months to years, depending on the offence.
  • Imprisonment: In more serious cases, especially high-range PCA offences or repeat offences, imprisonment is a possibility.
  • Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Program: For certain high-range PCA offences, a mandatory requirement to install an alcohol interlock device in the vehicle may be imposed.

Legal Defences to Drink Driving Offences

If facing DUI charges in NSW, it is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defence lawyer. We can assess the case, explore potential defences, and work towards securing the best possible outcome. Common defences may include challenging the accuracy of the testing procedures or questioning the lawfulness of the traffic stop.


Navigating the legal process for DUI charges can be complex, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe, impacting one’s personal and professional life. An experienced criminal lawyer can guide individuals through the legal proceedings, ensure their rights are protected, and present a strong defence strategy.

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Plea of Guilty to DUI Charge

If you are facing charges of DUI or another drink driving offence in New South Wales and intending to pleading guilty, it is important to take the following steps to prepare for the resolution of your case:


  • Provide your lawyer with detailed information about the circumstances surrounding the offense, including the amount you had to drink and the reason for driving.
  • If you have a low income, provide documentation that demonstrates your income level and outlines your expenses. This will assist the court in determining a fine that is fair and reasonable given your financial situation.
  • Consider enrolling in a drink driver education program.
  • Collect character references from individuals who are familiar with you and are aware of the charges against you. These references can be submitted in court to provide a positive perspective on your character.
  • Gather evidence that highlights any specific hardships that a license disqualification would cause for you and your family. For instance, if your job or the care of a sick family member relies on your license, present supporting documentation to the court.

Programs to Assist on Sentence

SAVE (Speed Alcohol Vehicle Education)


SAVE (Speed Alcohol Vehicle Education) is a traffic offender intervention program available in New South Wales for individuals facing traffic charges. It is conducted within the local court system and is specifically designed to provide participants with knowledge, skills, and a positive mindset to promote safer driving habits.


To enroll in the program, there is a fee of $165, and participants have the option to complete it either in-person or online.


Upon request, a court assessment can be prepared for participants who wish to present it in the Magistrates Court.


ASPIRE Traffic Offender Program


The ASPIRE traffic offender course is a comprehensive two-day program instructed by former police officers and educators. It covers various topics such as speeding, drink driving, drug driving, fatigue, mobile phone usage, distractions, road safety for vulnerable users, and vehicle maintenance.


The course fee for ASPIRE is $170.


Upon successfully finishing the course, participants receive a Local Court Report. This report can be utilized as supporting documentation when resolving traffic charges in court.


Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges in NSW carry significant legal and personal consequences. Understanding the legal framework, penalties, and available defences is crucial for those facing such charges. Seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable criminal lawyer is vital to ensure a fair and just resolution to the case and to protect one’s rights throughout the legal process.


If you have been charged with a DUI charge and have a pending court appearance, contact our sydney traffic lawyers. We will provide you a first free 15 minute consultation and legal advice.

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