Drink driving is a serious offence in Victoria and the government has been getting tougher and tougher on drink drivers. This an article about drink driving and where you can get help and a description of the process. This article does not intend to give legal advice and you should consult a lawyer if you were charged with drink driving related offence by Victorian police.
This article refers to information about alcohol-related crimes and we may follow up another article with drug vs. driving related offences in Victoria at a future date.
What is the blood alcohol content in Victoria?
Firstly, Alcohol and Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC. BAC is a measure of how much alcohol is in your body.
People on Learners permits, P1, P2, restricted motorcycle riders or professional drivers (for example bus drivers, taxi or truck drivers) must have BAC levels of ZERO. For all other drivers and those undertaking supervision of learner drivers then you must have a BAC of under 0.05. And note, this applies to both public and private property.
What are the rules on breath testing?
It is an offence if you don’t provide a breath sample or blood sample. It is also an offence to not stop at an RBT stop or random breath testing unit as directed by police or if you aren’t cooperative with Police who are trying to carry out a breath or blood test to you.
The Victorian state Government has been cracking down on drink (and drug) driving related offences in recent years and the penalties even for refusing to be tested are high.
What is the drink driving penalties?
The penalties for drink driving in Victoria are very high. You can read more information about drink driving penalties in Victoria on the VicRoads website. The penalties for those caught with a BAC over the limit vary from heavy fines, loss of licence and imprisonment for more severe cases. The penalties for drink driving in Victoria vary depending on the type of offence committed when you committed the offence, age at the time of the offence, type of licence or permit you held at the date of the offence and if it wasn’t your first offence. Regarding the value of a penalty unit in Victoria in 2012-2013, one penalty unit was $140.84.
Alcohol Interlocks – Usage in Victoria?
These are devices that stop you from starting your car if you have been drinking. The driver is required to blow into the interlock each time they want to start the vehicle and also at different times during the trip. The Victorian State Government has been expanding the use of interlock devices and lately Alcohol interlocks with cameras fitted to take pictures during each trip to provide driver record during the journey. The video below explains more about the interlock programme and shows what an interlock device looks like.
PART-B – COURT PROCESS
The penalties for drink driving offences is getting a lot tougher. At the time of writing, Police will give drink drivers a traffic infringement notice if they are first time offenders under 0.15%. All other offenders will be served with a charge and summons to appear in court. Licence cancellations require reapplication to the courts and possibly conditions such as having an interlock.
I am not a lawyer or qualified to give legal advice so my statements here will be general and refer to relevant websites or placed in the resources section see – PDF resources for downloading (see below) which are better qualified to outline the processes or penalties.
Sean Hardy – Motor Traffic Lawyer, based in Melbourne has detailed information on the court process on his website and is best to outline all matters related to legal proceedings for further reading.
Getting Your Victorian Drivers Licence Back?
Two types of offences are “managed”. VicRoads managed offences and Court Managed offences and who manages your case will vary by the time of detection of the crime, the BAC reading and the seriousness of the offence. You can find out more about getting your licence back from this document from VicRoads titled “Getting Your Licence Back” Information for the drink and drug driving offences. The document I have sighted is dated October 2014. Also, check the VicRoads website for details just in case these documents have been updated.
PART-C – FINDING A DRINK DRIVING LAWYER IN MELBOURNE
It’s strongly advised that you should seek legal advice about your case. We have put some resources below to help find a lawyer for your drink driving case however here are some brief notes on DUI lawyers in Melbourne.
As with most solicitors and seeking legal advice online be careful of carefully crafted SEO’d websites. Some of the lawyers may be advertising online a broad brush of skills and as I have experienced some may say they are good at what they do but in the other breath be draughting wills, estates, property law matters and other non-traffic offence legal situations. In other words, you need an expert who is doing Victorian traffic offence cases day in, day out and not a jack of all trades lawyer who may claim to have some skills but hasn’t handled a case like yours in some time.
Here are some DUI lawyers that seem focused on drink driving cases in Victoria. Please note, I have not engaged any of these people listed below and have not been paid or induced to write about anyone mentioned below. You will have to factor in costs and affordability of your case.
This is a small list of traffic offence lawyers but is no way a conclusive list:
|Paul Reynolds||Paul Reynolds - Melbourne Drink Driving Lawyer||Paul is a Melbourne Barrister. He is a drink driving lawyer represented in both Melbourne and country Victoria. Paul's website states he is a traffic lawyer, Melbourne based and can be engaged for court representations. He has fixed fees and “no hidden charges”. Pauls number is 0412 407 577 or check his website above. Paul is based in Lonsdale Street in the city (Melbourne). Paul handles both drink driving cases and drug driving cases.|
|Sean Hardy||Sean Hardy - Melbourne DUI Barrister||Drink Driving Lawyer in Melbourne. Sean has appeared in appeal cases in the following courts ie. County court of Victoria, Supreme Court of Victoria, Victorian Courts of Appeal and the High Court of Australia. His website is focused on drink driving cases and Sean has even puts some cases on his website. Sean is a Melbourne Barrister with 22 years experience in defending road traffic offences in court and offences under the Road Safety Act.|
|Armstrong Legal||Melbourne drink driving law firm - website contact.||Armstrong Legal have offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The Melbourne office is located in the CBD in William street, City. The Amstrong Legal website has some interesting information online but it is largely related to NSW. They are specialists in drink driving cases regardless. Amstrong Legal's website has also some possible defence angles titled under “how to beat a drink driving charge”|
|Doogue O'brien George||Melbourne CBD law firm focusing on Drink Driving Cases.||This firm is located in Queen Street Melbourne. The company comprises 7 barristers and solicitors. Who (on their website) claim to be specialist drink driving lawyers. They have offices in other suburbs of Melbourne including Heidelberg, Broadmeadows, Moorabbin, and Sunshine. The website of Doogue O'brien and George outlines more detailed information about traffic and drink related offences in Victoria. Can make representations in court.
It is recommended that you do some additional research on these firms such as the website word of mouth. There sometimes a re law tutors advertising on sites like Gumtree.com.au and if you are daring to front court on your own using self representation having a bouncing board to help formulate your case or documentations may be an option (but not advised).
Recommended Reading And Downloads Of Booklets?
- Getting your licence back – pdf from VicRoads for those who have had their licences cancelled and want to get back.
- Victoria Legal Aid – Drink Driving First Offence Fact Sheet
- Melbourne Magistrates Court on Interlocks
- Transport Accident Commission (VIC) – TAC
- VicRoads – Excellent resource for information on penalties, Interlock programme, getting your licence back. Interlock and Penalties for drink driving in Victoria.
PART E – Where can you go for further help?
Legal Aid Victoria. Free legal advice for drink driving related offences: Legal Aid offer free legal advice. They are open on Mondays and Fridays from 8.45am to 5.15pm and can provide some guidance on your drink driving case. I have not used this service other than make a comment from reading their website. It is possible to get a legal assistance grant with legal aid if you cannot afford a lawyer. Legal aid has 14 offices in Melbourne and regional Victoria. There is a page which has more information about drink driving on the Legal Aid website. Website: https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/
Alcoholics Anonymous. I have personally been in the seven steps system and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and can recommend this as a source of dealing with any alcohol-related drinking problems. There is a list of meeting times and locations for Alcoholics Anonymous on the website below. http://aatimes.org.au/
The Law Institute of Victoria – Referral to a DUI lawyer. The Law Institute of Victoria has a referral service to attorneys. On the Law Institutes website, you can look up lawyers anytime online or ring them directly on +61 3 9607 9550 between 9.30am and 5 pm. The Law Institute of Victoria is located in Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD. When I checked the online database of the law institute, I did have some problems finding lawyers with many searches coming back “no match” even for basic searches like “drink driving” or “DUI” etc. It appears that the searches were grouped under the term “traffic offences”. It may be better to pick up the phone if you are looking for a Melbourne lawyer specialising in drink driving offences than muck around on their database getting back “no match” responses.
Seeking Counselling for personal problems which may lead to drinking. There are many forms of counselling and I cannot say which model of counselling would suit (there are quite some different counselling modalities) given I cannot comment on the case by case basis. But if you ask your GP there may be some counselling sessions that are covered by Medicare. You might have to ask more from Medicare, your GP or follow up The Australian Psychological Society.