Have you been charged with Consume Intoxicating Liquor While Driving?
It is an offence against the Road Safety Act 1986 (RSA) section 49B to drink alcohol while driving or in charge of a motor vehicle.
This has no always been the case, previously it was legal to drink alcohol whilst driving as long as you were not over the prescribed limit.
So given introduction of this new section being s49B, the old concept of the traveller, that is, drinking a beer on the way home on a Friday afternoon is now a thing of the past.
The police must show that the person driving or in control of a motor vehicle was drinking intoxicating liquor, to do so they must see a driver do so or if they have stopped a driver and see an open container in the vehicle. They may request the driver undertake a preliminary breath test; they are obliged to wait 15 minutes before doing so to allow any residual alcohol to dissipate to get an accurate. If the driver registers below the PCA limit this may give weight to their decision to charge with consuming liquor while driving. If the reading is at or above the PCA the driver may face additional drink driving charges.
Please read below for more information relating to this charge.
The good news in relation to this offence is that it is one of the few drink driving charges that do not attract mandatory licence loss.
Subsection 49B of the Road Safety Act 1986.
The prosecution must that:
- The defendant was driving or in charge of a motor vehicle; and
- The defendant was drinking intoxicating liquor.
If found guilty of consuming intoxicating liquor while driving the maximum penalty is 10 penalty units.
While licence suspension or disqualification is not mandatory for an offence against s 49B, the court has a general discretion to suspend or cancel a driver’s licence pursuant to section 28 of the RSA.
Where will my case be heard?
Consuming intoxicating liquor while driving cases will be heard will be heard in the Magistrates Court.
Questions to consider
Do you have a defence?
Did you have an open container of alcohol in the car when pulled over by the police?
If you are pleading guilty, what can you do to minimise your sentence?
What to do next?
Although you cannot go to gaol for this offence, you can lose your licence if the magistrate decides to excerise their discretion in favour of licence loss, that is why retaining a lawyer is important to ensure that a magistrate finds in your favour.
You should always consider how much it will cost you to be disqualified from driving for a period of months or years if the case does not go well for you.
The police and the courts take driving offences very seriously to avoid severe penalties such as loss of license you need to be represented; Dribbin & Brown Traffic Lawyers are experienced in handling these types of matters. We regularly appear in court to represent people charged with driving offences.
Section 49B Offence to consume intoxicating liquor while driving
(1) A person must not consume intoxicating liquor while the person is driving a motor vehicle or is in charge of a motor vehicle.
Penalty: 10 penalty units.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) a person is not taken to be in charge of a motor vehicle unless that person is a person to whom section 3AA(1)(a), (b) or (c) applies.