Case Study- Drink Driving and Drug Driving
Criminal Defence Lawyer Nancy Grunwald
1. Careless driving, Road Safety Act 1986 s. 65
2. Drink Driving, Road Safety Act 1986 s. 49(1)(b)
3. Drug Driving, Road Safety Act 1986 s. 49 (1) (bb)
Facts of the case:
The client was a P-plater and a relatively inexperienced driver.
He had been out the night before with a group of friends. He was not driving that night however he was counting his drinks as he knew he would be driving the next day.
The client instructed that he was out until about 2am. He was drinking post-mix spirits. He consumed about 4.5-5 drinks in approximately 4.5 hours.
The next day, he woke early and was on the road by 6am. While on his way to his friend’s house, he started sneezing. As he sneezed, he closed his eyes for a brief second and his arms jerked, causing his car to veer off the road. The client panicked and attempted to apply the breaks, however in his haste and in the heat of the moment, he has accidently hit the accelerator. The car has then collided with a tree.
Police attended and as part of standard procedure, he was tested for drugs and alcohol. The preliminary breath test returned a positive reading for alcohol and he was asked to accompany Police to the station to provide an evidentiary breath test.
At the station, the client blew a reading of 0.56 a sample of saliva was also taken for the purposes of drug analysis.
As the client was on a Probationary license, there is a mandatory minimum 6 month loss of license for this reading.
Unfortunately for the client, the drug test also came back positive for the drug ecstasy and the client was subsequently charged with drug driving. This offence carries with it a mandatory minimum loss of license of 3 months for a first offence, or 6 months for a subsequent offence. As this was a first offence, our client was facing a 3 month loss of license for the drug drive, as well as 6 months for the drink drive, as a mandatory minimum.
The client was also charged with careless driving in relation to the car accident. For this charge, the Police have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the client did not exercise ‘proper care and control’ of the vehicle.. A charge of careless driving does not carry with it a mandatory minimum loss of license. It is discretionary, meaning, it is up to the Magistrate deciding the case as to whether or not they suspend or disqualify the driver, and for what period of time.
What happened next:
Our client attended an initial appointment where the charges and allegations were discussed with him.
After going through the Police brief of evidence with the client, our lawyer formed the view that the chares were made out.
This was on the basis that:
1. There were Certificates of Analysis in relation to the testing of the saliva
2. There was an evidentiary breath test result of 0.56
3. The client was involved in a single car accident. At the time of the collision the visibility was good and the traffic was light. In relation to the car, there was no evidence of a mechanical fault, or any extenuating circumstances for example, an emergency, that would require him to swerve off the road
As a result of further discussions with, the client, we were instructed to enter pleas of guilty to the charges.
In preparation of the plea of guilty, a number of supporting documents were obtained. These included;
1. Personal references from the client’s parents
2. A reference from the client’s employer
The critical aspect of this case was license loss. Our client was working full time as a chef in Hawthorn, which required him to work long and unpredictable hours. For the duration of the license loss period, the client would be required to take public transport to and from work, however, given his hours, public transport would not be available to him, particularly early mornings on the weekend.
Given the clients, young age, his lack of prior offences and his other personal circumstances, it was submitted to the Court that it should not impose a loss of license in relation to the careless driving charge. Further, it was also submitted that the Court should order that the 3 month and 6 month disqualifications be served concurrently, that is, that the total license loss should be 6 months and not 9 months.
In relation to a financial penalty, the Court was told that the car that the client was driving on the day of the offence was owned by the client and that it was insured, however the insurance company refused to cover the car given that the accident occurred in the context of both drink and drug driving. This meant that the client was still paying off a car that he no longer owned. It was submitted to the Court that the client had already suffered a heavy financial loss, and the Court was asked to take this into account in determining the final outcome of the case.
After hearing submissions, the client was sentenced to an aggregate fine of $800 and he was ordered to pay $110.40 in statutory costs. His license was cancelled and he was disqualified from driving in the state of Victoria for a period of 6 months in relation to the drink driving, and 3 months in relation to the drug driving charge. The Magistrate ordered that these 2 periods be served concurrently.
This was an excellent result for the client, not only in relation to the significantly reduced fine, but also as it resulted in the least amount of license loss possible.
Drink & drug driving offence, consequences can include losing your licence for a period of time, severe financial penalties or even prison in more extreme cases. It is vital to engage a competent and experienced driving offence lawyer who can help you receive a not guilty verdict or can minimise the penalties you may face.
Call us at any one of our Melbourne offices today