Drink Driving Lawyers Melbourne

Dribbin & Brown Drink Driving Lawyers are specialists in handling drink driving matters. With offices in the Melbourne CBD, Dandenong, Frankston, Ringwood, Moorabbin and Geelong areas, our lawyers routinely appear at the various local Magistrates’ Courts around Melbourne representing clients charged with driving under the influence (DUI), driving whilst intoxicated (DWI) and drinking and driving. If you have been charged with a drink driving offence then call our office today. We are experts in the field and can help you achieve the best outcome in your case.

For further information, we have prepared this article to assist you in understanding the possible ramifications of going to court in relation to drink driving charges. If you have a drink driving matter listed at court, please call our office and one of our experienced lawyers will return your call to discuss how we can help you. If you would like to read about the various types of drink driving charges, click here.

 

Drink Driving Lawyers Melbourne

Michael Brown Drink Driving Lawyer Managing Partner Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers Melbourne

What can happen at court in relation to drink driving?

Drink driving and drunk driving charges listed at the local Magistrates’ Court can have a number of different ramifications:

  • On a plea of guilty or a finding of guilty, significant fines can be imposed.
  • On a plea of guilty or a finding of guilty there is potential for a gaol sentence to be imposed. But this all depends on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading and whether there are prior matters to consider. It important to note that some first-time drink driving charges cannot attract a gaol sentence, but this is not true of all offences. As an example, section 49(1)(b) of the Road Safety Act can only attract a financial penalty on a first offence, but section 49(1)(a) can attract gaol.
  • In some circumstances drink driving charges will attract immediate suspension of your driver’s licence, prior to the matter being listed at court.
  • Following a sentence for drink driving and a subsequent period of disqualification of your driver’s licence you must be subject to a 0.00 BAC condition on your driver’s licence.
  • Following a sentence for drink driving and a period of disqualification from driving it is likely that you will be subject to an interlock condition on your licence from anywhere from six months to four years, unless your charges predate the Road Safety Act changes that came into effect on 1 October 2014.
  • It is likely that you will face a mandatory minimum cancellation and disqualification period of your driver’s licence, but in very limited circumstances, open drivers who are over the age of 26 with no prior history and who have a BAC of less than 0.07 can avoid disqualification. Even sub 0.05 offences for people on a 0.00 BAC limit attract a mandatory minimum disqualification period of three months, due to the changes to the Act that came into effect on 1 October 2014.
  • Prior to the matter being listed at court, police have the power to immediately impound your motor vehicle and, on a finding of guilty, to further impound or forfeit your motor vehicle.

There may be a technical defence open to you that will support a not guilty plea and result in having the charges withdrawn. Should this option be available to you, very few of the points listed above will apply.

As you can see, drink driving matters can have far-reaching ramifications regarding your freedom to drive and can see you severely financially impacted through loss of licence, substantial fines, potential imprisonment and further impoundment and forfeiture of your motor vehicle.

If you have been caught drink or drunk driving and have to appear at court, it is always wise to engage a lawyer. If you are not sure whether you need one, give us a call. One of our experienced drinking driving lawyers will call you back to get further details from you and assess your case. We are always happy to have a chat so at the very least you can make an informed decision about your representation.

I was caught drink driving and was immediately suspended (via a section 51 notice) from driving. What can I do?

In relation to certain BAC readings regarding drink driving offences, the police have power to suspend you from driving on the spot. This is called a section 51 notice of suspension. It is called that because it relates to section 51 of the Road Safety Act. If you are served with one of these notices it means that you cannot drive. Any time off the road you do as a result of a section 51 suspension before attending court must be taken off any period of disqualification imposed by the Magistrate.

It is possible to challenge a section 51 notice, but it is not easy. Given that any time you do off the road will be taken into account later, sometimes there is no point (i.e. you will have to do the time eventually if you are pleading guilty).

In other circumstances you might be pleading not guilty to your drink driving charges. In these circumstances, it might be in your interests to challenge the section 51 notice and get back on the road immediately. Per section 51(12) of the Road Safety Act, a defendant must show exceptional circumstances before a Magistrate is permitted to overturn a section 51 notice. It is a high bar to overcome, but not insurmountable. A notice must be served on the chief commissioner 14 days prior to the application to appeal being made. It is highly advisable to engage our office if you intend lodging an appeal against a section 51 notice.

Conviction vs non-conviction for drink driving and drunk driving offences – What’s the difference?

If you plead guilty at a Magistrates’ Court in relation to drink driving you can be sentenced with or without conviction. What does this mean? Not a great deal, actually. Whether you are sentenced with or without conviction, the record will still appear on a record check and you will still serve (as a starting point) the minimum period of time off the road. If the sentence is made without conviction, the record will simply show that the matter was recorded as a non-conviction, but it does not mean that it will not show up. To obtain no record at all you would need to be granted a diversion. Unfortunately, diversions are not available in relation to drink driving matters because of the mandatory orders in relation to licence.

Some lawyers form the view that if you receive a traffic infringement you should appeal and argue before a magistrate for a non-conviction. It is possible to appeal a drink driving traffic infringement notice and take it to court, but then you will have a record that indicates you went to court with a finding of guilt (potentially without a conviction) as opposed to a record that indicates you received a traffic infringement notice with conviction.

Unless there is a specific reason that you require a non-conviction outcome, our view is that there is no point appealing a traffic infringement for the sole purpose of obtaining a non-conviction in circumstances where your goal is to avoid any form of record, as it will still appear on your record. If you have any other motive for wanting a non-conviction, we can certainly assist you to achieve that outcome. For more information on the meaning of non-conviction vs conviction please click here.

How do I get my licence back if it has been disqualified? Do I have to go back to court?

In most circumstances, the answer is yes. Very occasionally, you can apply to VicRoads, but either way you will most likely have to complete a drink driver’s education course.

If you have to come to court to obtain your licence back you will need to list the application at the Magistrates’ Court 30 days prior to the date you are due to get your licence back. During that 30 day period you will have to complete the drink driver’s education course and also will have to be interviewed by police in relation to your original drink driving offence. Police will then provide a report to the police prosecutor at court advising of their position in relation to whether you should get your licence back. For more information on licence restoration please click here.

Why engage a lawyer in relation to drink driving charges?

Court can be an intimidating place, particularly for the unrepresented or first time defendant. The court staff, prosecutors and magistrates are all unfamiliar. That is why it is so important to engage lawyers who have experience representing clients charged with drink driving and DUI charges at the Magistrates’ Court where you must attend.

Drink driving law is complex. You could be walking into a hornet’s nest and not be aware until it is too late. We have represented hundreds of clients in the County Court, trying to repair damage that occurred in the first instance at the Magistrates’ Court. This commonly happens when clients either choose to represent themselves or engage inexperienced lawyers at the first instance. Don’t make this mistake.

Why Dribbin & Brown?

  • Dribbin & Brown Drink Driving Lawyers all have significant experience representing clients charged with drink driving and drunk driving offences.
  • Our lawyers care about what happens to you, and consider all factors relevant to getting you the best outcome. This ethos filters down from the top.
  • We have represented thousands of clients over the years charged with drink driving. It is that experience that counts.
  • We have appealed matters all the way to the Supreme Court on an error of law and been successful in relation to technical defences regarding drink driving.
  • All our lawyers attend regular continuing professional development and other training events specifically relating to drink driving.

If you have been charged with drink driving or drunk driving, please select the office closest to you and contact us today.