How to avoid losing your license and getting a criminal conviction
If you have been charged with a drink driving offence you are probably worried about having to go to Court, getting a criminal conviction and how you are going to cope if you lose your driving license. You may also be very concerned about what your family and friends are going to think when they find out you have lost your license.
Do not despair. Our firm has an extremely good track record of helping people who have been charged with drink driving offences to avoid a criminal conviction and keep their driving license.
We will tell you how we do this, but first, a bit of background information about the penalties for the most common drink driving offences:
Low range drink-driving offences in NSW are punished by an automatic period of disqualification from driving of between 3 and 6 months and a fine of $2,200.00 (the low range reading is between 0.05 to 0.08). From May 2019 onwards the Police will have the option to issue a penalty notice for low range drink driving instead of a court summons. This option can only be chosen if the person hasn’t been issued a penalty notice previously or been convicted of a similar offence in the previous 5 years. This option to issue a penalty notice also applies to driving under the influence of a drug.
Mid range drink driving offences in NSW carry an automatic disqualification period, a fine of $3,300.00 but also 9 months imprisonment (mid range is .08 to .15). A person committing a first offence of mid-range drink driving is subject to a mandatory interlock order. If you are convicted of this offence, for the first time, you will be disqualified for 3 or 6 months and then ordered to go on to an interlock licence for at least 12 months. The court does have the discretion to exempt you from this order.
High range offence carry a disqualification period of between 1 year and 3 years, and a fine of $3,300.00 but also 18 months imprisonment (high range is .08 to .15).
So how can you avoid a conviction?
If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a drink driving offence you can usually expect to be convicted of the offence and the conviction will be recorded on your criminal record, you will receive the penalty for the offence, unless that is, you get a “Section 10”.
What is a section 10?
The Court has the power under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) to dismiss a charge without recording a conviction. If the Court can be persuaded to exercise this power, this is known as ‘getting a Section 10.’
If you get a s.10 you will not be convicted of the drink driving offence and you will not lose your license.
How to get a section 10 for a drink driving offence
Everyone wants a to get a Section 10, but not all those who ask for a Section 10 get one. In our experience the following matters maximise your prospects of getting a Section 10.
Being legally represented in Court by a competent and confident solicitor who is known to the Magistrate;
Thorough preparation of your case, so that the extenuating circumstances forming the basis of the Section 10 submission can be clearly and compellingly put to the Court;
You successfully completing the Traffic Offender Program. The Traffic Offender Program runs for 2 hours per week for 8 weeks. We can help you enrol on the Traffic Offender Program.
Having a good driving history, and being able to explain any prior convictions you may have for driving offences.
Making sure you get the full discount available for a plea of guilty;
Obtaining appropriate amendments to the Police Facts so that the Police Facts do not contain inaccuracies or overstate what you are willing to admit;
Negotiating a favourable plea deal with the Police; It is sometime possible to persuade the Police to accept a plea of guilty to a low range drink driving offence in place of a mid range offence.
Obtaining evidence directly relevant to the Section 10 submission such as character references, photographs, expert medical reports, travel itineraries, visa requirements, eligibility requirement for various professions, and commendations;
You wearing appropriate clothing and having the appropriate demeanour in Court (we can advise you in this regard);
Having family members or friends present with you in Court;
Your lawyer being able to guage the mood of the Magistrate and knowing when they have said enough.
If you have been charged with an offence, or are seeking further information on a Criminal or Traffic legal matter, call North Shore Criminal Law on (02) 9955 2298 or our 24 hour Emergency Service on 0400 44 64 24.