Being charged with a serious traffic offence can be nerve-wracking. Add to that the daunting task of appearing in court and having to explain the offence, and the whole experience can be overwhelming. Having a criminal record, losing your driver’s licence, being fined, and facing a prison sentence in more serious matters will have a significant impact on your life, your job, and your family.
Traffic matters generally proceed quickly and the court process can be confusing. The strength of answering to the charge will be influenced by obtaining dependable, timely advice, so it is important to seek legal advice immediately after you are charged.
We understand that being charged with a serious traffic offence can be life changing. Our lawyers are competent advocates and can represent you in court if you have been charged. We will explain the legal process, the implications of being found guilty of the alleged offence, identify whether any defences are available, and advocate for the best possible outcome in the circumstances.
Many traffic offences result in licence disqualification. For most people this is inconvenient to say the least, but for many losing a licence can also mean the loss of a job and your financial security, and significant ramifications for your family. In serious cases, traffic offences can lead to time in prison.
We strongly recommend that you contact an experienced traffic lawyer if you have been charged with a serious traffic offence. A good lawyer will assist by explaining your legal rights, identifying whether you have a defence, and preparing your matter for court. Your lawyer will speak on your behalf which can help reduce some of the stress involved in attending court. Your lawyer will guide you through the process and detail what your options are and try to mitigate any penalty that the court may impose.
Drink Driving (motor vehicles)
It is an offence in Queensland to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the permitted concentration levels. The concentration level will depend on the class of licence the driver holds.
A person may also be charged with drink driving even if they were just ‘in charge’ of the vehicle while over the relevant BAC level. An example of this is where a driver decides to sleep in their car until they think they will be able to drive again.
What is the penalty?
The penalty for a drink driving offence will depend on the seriousness of the offence, and in particular the alcohol concentration reading. On the low end of the scale, a driver convicted of a drink driving offence could receive one month disqualification from driving, and a fine. At the other end of the scale, a ‘repeat offender’ convicted of a (further) drink driving offence could be sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
What is a work licence?
A conviction for a drink driving offence within Queensland has an automatic mandatory disqualification of licence for a period of at least one month. Losing a driver’s licence can cause many people all sorts of difficulty including financial hardship if they need their licence for their job. If this is the case, in some circumstances, the person may be eligible to apply for a ‘restricted licence’, also known as a ‘work licence’. This licence permits people to drive for work purposes and only during the hours permitted by the court.
You only have one chance to apply for a work licence, so it is important that your application is well prepared, and you seek legal advice. If the application is unsuccessful, the licence will be disqualified, and you will be unable to drive for the period ordered by the Magistrate.
Going to Court
Traffic offences generally have an automatic disqualification which operates as a ‘default’ and may be reduced provided there is sufficient and appropriate cause to do so. This means there needs to be supporting material to have the disqualification period reduced.
No two cases are alike and various factors are considered before advising on the most appropriate way to put forward a case to the court. Matters to be considered include:
- details of your character, work history and family circumstances including involvement in the community.
- whether there are medical issues relevant to the offending behaviour or other plausible reasons for having committed the offence.
- your reliance on a driver’s licence for work or other reasons such as a need for ongoing medical treatment, and the impact the loss of a licence has or will have on your future.
- whether you have prior criminal convictions.