Drinking and driving: Know your limits

 Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Drinking and driving: Know your limits

Drivers who hold a learner or probationary licence must have a zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at all times whilst driving, whereas a full licence holder is permitted to have a BAC up to 0.05.


Have you ever had an open alcoholic drink whilst driving? Section 49B of the Road Safety Act 1986 (the Act) provides that drivers are not permitted to drink alcohol whilst driving or in charge of a vehicle and section 49C of the Act prevents passengers from drinking alcohol whilst supervising Learner drivers. Did you know that you would be breaking the law if you were drinking in your car while stationary, as you would be deemed to be ‘in charge’ of the vehicle at the time?

Minimum loss of licence periods for drink driving

Victoria hasmandatory sentencing when it comes to most drink drive offences. When you combine these strict liability offences with mandatory sentencing, you will be off the road for some time!

BAC reading First offenders
0.00 to less than 0.05 (learner or probationary licence holders) 3 months
0.05 to less than 0.07 (learner or probationary licence holders) 6 months
0.05 or more but less than 0.10 (all drivers) 6 months
0.10 or more but less than 0.11 (all drivers) 10 months
0.11 or more but less than 0.12 (all drivers) 11 months
0.12 or more but less than 0.13 (all drivers) 12 months

As you can see, for every 0.01 over the BAC limit, your loss of licence increases by one month.

New South Wales

 Rule 298-1of the Road Rules 2014 NSW (the Rules) states that all drivers are prevented from drinking alcohol while driving. Interestingly, the Rules do not make any mention of passengers also being restricted from drinking even when supervising a Learner driver. The supervisor must, however, be under the legal alcohol limit of 0.05 just as if they were the driver of the vehicle.

Minimum loss of licence periods for drink driving

In NSW all drink driving offences will require you to attend at the Local Court. The minimum suspension period that can be ordered is legislated, but Magistrate does have the option to order a lesser suspension period if you can convince them to do so.

BAC reading First offenders
0.05 or more but less than 0.079 (all drivers) 6 months
0.08 or more but less than 0.149 (all drivers) 12 months
Over 0.15 (all drivers)

3 years

A very common question we are asked is “if I lose my licence in NSW, can I still drive in Victoria?”. As a result of mutual recognition provisions between Australian states, an order for a loss of licence in New South Wales will be placed onto a national database, which may be accessed by Victoria licensing authorities. It is therefore important that you do not drive at all during any disqualification period.

If you have been charged with drink driving, contact Ashlyn McCurdy at Cosgriff Lawyers to find out more or to arrange an appointment on (03) 5480 6344 or ashlynm@cosgriff.lawyer.