Most people’s brush with the Courts comes from traffic offending, whether it be challenging a speeding ticket which was wrongly given or appealing to keep their license after incurring 12 or more demerit points in a three year period. If you have a traffic matter and want some advice, call Mantzoros & Partners on 08 8396 3143 or email us to arrange a free no obligation first interview.

Demerit Points

Many traffic offences in South Australia carry demerit points. Whenever you are convicted of or expedites (pays a fine) a traffic offence which carried demerit points, the points are automatically added to their license. Each demerit point remains on your license for a period of three years from the date of the offence.

A fully licensed driver can accumulate 11 demerit points without incident. However, once 12 or more demerit points have been accumulated in a three (3) year period a license disqualification occurs. Depending on the number of demerit points incurred, a disqualification can last for between three (3) and five (5) months.

If you incur 12 or more demerit points within a three year period, you may be eligible to enter into an undertaking of good behavior. This means that you are able to avoid the disqualification period and retain your license. However, if you incur two (2) or more further demerit points in the 12 months after entering the undertaking of good behavior then your license will automatically be disqualified for a period which is equal to double the initial disqualification period you would have initially served.

To download a full list of offences which incur demerit points click here.

It is important to note that in some circumstances the court can reduce the amount of demerit points you incur for each offence. Accordingly, in some cases it may be worthwhile electing to be prosecuted and making an application for a reduction of demerit points rather than paying the fine and incurring the demerit points. Remember, you cannot make an application to reduce the demerit points after you pay the fine and in most cases if you elect to be prosecuted it will result in a conviction on your criminal record.

If you have received a fine and are worried that it means you will lose your license, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Contact our offices on 08 8396 3143 to arrange a free no obligation first interview.

Drink Driving

Alcohol can have a significant effect on a person’s ability to drive. It is estimated that about two schooners of full strength beer or three schooners of low alcohol beer drunk in an hour will raise an average person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 per 100 mls of blood.

As of June 2005 the police have extensive powers with which to stop and breath test drivers.

The police may stop and breath test any person who they reasonably believe has:

  • driven; or
  • attempted to put a motor vehicle in motion; or
  • acted as a Qualified Supervised Driver for a holder of a permit or license.

In addition, the police may stop and breath test any person who they reasonably believe while driving has:

  • been involved in an accident;
  • committed an offence of which driving is an element; or
  • behaved in a manner that indicates her or his ability to drive is impaired.

Further, the police may also stop and test any driver of a motor vehicle that approaches a random breath testing station. A breath testing station can be established at any time and in the vicinity of any road.

Generally speaking, there are three different charges which can arise from drink driving, they are: Driving with a Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol present in the Blood, Driving Under the Influence and Failing to Comply with Direction to Provide a Breath Sample.

Driving Over The Limit

It is an offence to drive, or attempt to drive, a motor vehicle while there is more than the ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ (PCA) in your blood. It does not matter if you do not feel drunk or if your driving was not affected. The law is strict as to the amount of alcohol that can be present in a person’s blood when driving. For full license holders, the maximum allowable blood alcohol level is .05. For learner, provisional or probationary drivers, any alcohol in their blood is a breach of their license conditions.

Driving Under The Influence (DUI)

A person who drives, or attempts to drive, a vehicle whilst so affected by alcohol or a drug as to be unable to properly control the vehicle is guilty of an offence. For the purposes of this offence, a person is deemed to be unable to properly control a vehicle if any physical or mental faculty is lost or appreciably impaired. The police may use their observations to show that the driver could not exercise effective control, such as slurred speech, swaying when standing, and a strong smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath. This offence is separate to exceed PCA and a driver may be charged with both offences. However, a driver cannot be convicted of both offences in relation to the same incident.

Failing To Provide A Breath Sample

It is an offence to refuse to blow into the apparatus used for an alcotest or breath analysis when directed to do so by police. Refusing a breath test results in an automatic license disqualification. There are some limited circumstances when you can claim that you were unable to provide a breath sample.

Penalties

The penalties for Driving under the Influence, Driving over the Limit and Failing to Provide a Breath Sample all involve a fine and license disqualification. Although, a first offender who has between 0.05 and 0.079 BAC can avoid a license disqualification if they pay the on the spot fine.

The fine amount and disqualification time will depend on several factors, including: your BAC and how many drink or drug driving offences you have been convicted of in the past.

Driving under the Influence carries a minimum $1,100.00 fine or no more than three months imprisonment and a license disqualification of no less than 12 months.

Driving over the Limit carries a minimum fine of $1,100.00 and license disqualification of three (3) months for a first offender who has the lowest range of BAC (0.05-0.079).

The maximum penalty for Failing to Provide a Breath Sample is a fine in the amount of $2,900.00 and license disqualification of no less than three (3) years.

All of these offences also incur demerit points.

On-the-Spot Disqualifications

The police will give an ‘on‐the‐spot’ disqualification for the offences of DUI, Driving over the Limit (.08 or greater), refuse breath test or refuse blood test. This disqualification will usually be for the minimum period for the charge you are likely to face. You can apply to the court to have the suspension lifted or reduced, but the grounds on which you can apply are strictly limited.

Can I Challenge The Results Of A Breath Test?

It is possible to challenge the results of a breath test only if you undergo the optional blood test.

If you choose to have a blood test, then the police will provide a blood testing kit. The kit contains a statement of the person’s right to have a blood test together with instructions to both the person and a doctor on the blood sampling procedures. The doctor (or nurse) must divide the sample into halves, giving one sample to you and forwarding a second sample to the police. The police sample will be analysed and the results will be sent to you. You can choose to have the other sample tested independently.

Can I Keep My License?

Only in very rare and exceptional circumstances will a court allow you to keep your license if you have been convicted of a drink driving offence. It is not possible for a driver to keep a licence for special purposes such as work.

Contact our offices on 08 8396 3143 to arrange a free no obligation first interview.

Driving Whilst Disqualified

In order to drive a vehicle on a road lawfully a person requires a relevant driver’s license. However, that driver’s license can be disqualified for any number of reasons.

Once a person’s driver’s license is disqualified it means that their license is cancelled and invalid. Upon conclusion of the disqualification period the person may apply to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and pay a fee for the issue of a new license.

It is an offence to drive whilst your license is disqualified. Pursuant to section 91(5) of the Motor Vehicles Act the maximum penalty for driving with a suspended or disqualified license is 6 months imprisonment for a first offence and 2 years imprisonment for subsequent offences.

First and subsequent offences do not only relate to the current period of suspension or disqualification but to all convictions for driving whilst suspended or disqualified.

If you have been charged with driving whilst disqualified there are a number of possible defences, contact us on (08) 8396 3143 or by email to arrange a free, no obligation first interview.