Drink Driving Laws in Queensland

Drink driving and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offences are some of the most common traffic offences in Queensland.

It is an offence to drive under the influence of alcohol.

You can also be charged with being ‘in charge’ of a vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit. For example, if you are found asleep in the driver’s seat with the keys on your lap, you will be considered ‘in charge’ of the vehicle and be charged with what is equivalent to a drink driving offence, whether or not you had any intention to drive.

Defending a Drink Driving Charge

Most people who are charged with drink driving offences end up pleading guilty. It is very difficult to successfully defend a drink driving charge, but it is not impossible. If you are thinking about pleading not guilty you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

If you plead guilty the Magistrate will impose a sentence that is comprised of two parts:

  • The penalty – usually a fine or a community based order
  • The disqualification – a period of time during which you will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a drivers licence in Queensland.

Drink Driving Penalties & Licence Disqualification

The penalty you get and the length of your disqualification will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration
  • Your criminal and traffic history, in particular whether you have previously been convicted of drink driving
  • The circumstances of your charge, for example whether you were charged following a random breath test or if the police stopped you for a reason to do with the manner of your driving
  • Your personal history and character
  • The impact of the loss of your licence
  • Any rehabilitation or driver education courses you have completed

The law sets out the following mandatory minimum disqualification periods for drink driving offences depending on the reading and any history of previous drink driving offences within the last 5 years.

Over the no alcohol limit but under the general alcohol limit – 0.00 to 0.49

* Relevant to learner drivers, probationary and provisional licence holders, people on the alcohol interlock program

Maximum penalty
For first time offenders – 20 penalty units or 6 months’ imprisonment
Increasing to 30 penalty units or 12 months’ imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – 3 to 9 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – 3 to 18 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months

Over the general alcohol limit but under the middle alcohol limit – 0.05 to 0.09

Maximum penalty

For first time offenders – 14 penalty units or 3 months’ imprisonment
Increasing to 30 penalty units or 12 months’ imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – 1 to 9 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – 3 to 18 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months

Over the middle alcohol limit but under the high alcohol limit – 0.10 to 0.149

Maximum penalty

For first time offenders – 20 penalty units or 6 months’ imprisonment
Increasing to 30 penalty units or 12 months’ imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – 3 to 12 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – 3 to 18 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months

Over the high alcohol limit – 0.15 or higher

Maximum penalty
For first time offenders – 28 penalty units or 9 months’ imprisonment
Increasing to 60 penalty units or 18 months’ imprisonment depending on traffic history

Disqualification period
For first time offenders – minimum of 6 months
1 previous offence less than 0.15 – minimum of 9 months
2 previous offences, both less than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months
1 previous offence, greater than 0.15 – minimum of 12 months
2 previous offences, one more than 0.15 – minimum of 24 months

People can be sent to jail for a drink driving office.  The law actually states that if a person is convicted of a third high range drink driving offence within 5 years then the penalty MUST include a term of imprisonment.

Current as at November 2016

*This fact sheet is for information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

For advice on a Drink Driving or Traffic Offence, please contact Kahler Lawyers.