A drink driving offence is committed by a special range driver if he drives a motor vehicle in a public road with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .02 grams but less than .05 grams.
In the imposition of the penalty, courts will take into account the character of the driver, his traffic record and the need for a licence.
In NSW, there are several categories of prescribed alcohol concentration (PCA) drink driving offences. One of which is the special range drink driving offence. The Road Transport Act 2013 specifically provides on how this offence is committed and punished. One should be vigilant about driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol because that entails payment of a fine or bond depending on the frequency of the violation.
A special range driver under the Road Transport Act 2013 is one who is a:
Acts not allowed
In NSW, like in any other categories of drink driving offences, the law specifically prohibits a person from certain acts relating to driving, a violation of which will constitute the offence of special range PCA.
A special range PCA driver is not allowed by law if he is a special category driver in respect to motor vehicle to drive the motor vehicle or to occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion. Also, he is not allowed under the law to occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.
To say the obvious, driving a motor vehicle while the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) present in the driver’s breath or blood qualifies as special range PCA, commits the offence of special range PCA. However, driving the motor vehicle is not the only way to commit the offence of special range PCA.
As stated, a mere attempt to put the motor vehicle while occupying the driver’s seat already constitutes the offence. Further, occupying the seat next to the learner driver who is driving the motor is said to be committing the offence.
A fine is the most serious penalty, imposed on 59.8 per cent of convicted drink-drivers. The average fine varies according to the PCA range of the offence. For the special range PCA, $361. The second most common penalty is a bond without conviction or no conviction recorded, imposed on about 22 per cent of convicted drink-drivers.
Bonds without conviction or no conviction recorded, however, remain extremely rare for offenders convicted of high range PCA offences. (NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Crime and Justice Statistics Bureau Brief 2012, p.1)
The maximum penalty that can be imposed to a special range PCA driver is 10 penalty units (in the case of a first offence) or 20 penalty units (in the case of a second or subsequent offence).
This means that considering the amount corresponding to each penalty unit, the maximum penalties for Special Range Drink Driving and the first main offence that has been committed within NSW in the last 5 years can be a fine not exceeding $1,100.
A second or further offence that has been committed in NSW in the last 5 years attracts a fine not exceeding $2,200.
In all offences for Special Range Drink Driving, the court can make the decision not to record a conviction. If the court makes the decision not to record a conviction, the driver will then not have to pay a fine or be disqualified from driving. If there is a conviction, a disqualification period of 3 months can be the minimum expected and an automatic disqualification period will be 6 months.
If a second offence is committed in the last 5 years, then 6 months is the minimum disqualification period and the automatic disqualification period will be 12 months.