A driving under the influence offence (DUI) is a criminal charge enforced by police against an individual discovered driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
For an open driving license, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be over 0.05% for this charge to be brought.
However, for some drivers their BAC must be always zero when operating a vehicle.
These apply if you hold a learner license, a provisional license (‘P’ license), a class RE motorbike license for a period less than 12 months, learning to ride an R class motorbike, as well as driving a tractor or construction vehicle, taxi, driving instructor vehicle, truck, bus, tow truck, road train, pilot vehicle, a vehicle transporting dangerous goods and a limousine.
High-range DUI’s occur at a BAC of 0.15% and over, this is the most serious drink driving offence in Queensland.
If charged with this offence, an individual is facing a maximum penalty of 9 months imprisonment and/or 28 penalty units for their first offence.
The penalty unit value in Queensland is $137.85 (current from 1 July 2021), meaning a fine for a first offence high-range DUI could be up to $3,859.80.
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Driving Under the Influence – High Range DUI
If you are charged a second time within five years for a high range DUI, the penalties attached increase. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and/or 60 penalty units (a fine of $8,271 current from 1 July 2021).
Being charged for a third time with a serious offence within the same five-year period, the law requires an imprisonment sentence as part of the penalty.
What happens to my license – Driving Under the Influence
In Queensland, it is required to disqualify the individual charged from holding or obtaining a driver’s license for a minimum of six months when being convicted of their first high-range DUI.
This is extended to one year for a second offence high-range DUI and to two years for any serious offences following.
However, the Court does hold the power to disqualify a person’s license absolutely for even a first high-range offence, although this applies to particularly rare circumstances.
In circumstances where an individual receives multiple license disqualifications, these time frames must be served cumulatively, meaning one disqualification does not commence until the previous one has expired.
When being charged with a high-range DUI, your vehicle will be required to be fitted with an alcohol ignition interlock device for 12 months once receiving your license back after the disqualification period.
An alcohol ignition interlock device is defined in the Transport Operation (Road Use Management) Act 1995 s 91I as a device designed to be fitted to a motor vehicle which will prevent the vehicle from starting, unless a breath sample is received by the owner of the vehicle reading either a BAC of zero or under a certain limit.
Will a high-range Driving Under the Influence offence appear as a criminal conviction?
Due to this offence being categorised as a serious offence, yes it will result in a recorded criminal conviction.
The penalties involved and the seriousness of the offence will depend on a range of factors such as the BAC concentration, whether a collision occurred, and any injuries sustained as a result of the offence.
Having a criminal conviction recorded can impose serious consequences on the offender, an example of this is possible difficulties seeking employment due to majority of employers conducting background checks, this may affect their decision when hiring.
A recorded criminal conviction may also restrict overseas travel and visas you are eligible for.
What if I need my license during the disqualification period?
Applying for a work license enables you to be able to drive your vehicle for strictly work purposes.
However, this may only apply if the DUI offence is a low or mid-range charge and no suspensions of your licence has been issued within the last 5 years, but this must be done at the time you appear in the Court to plead guilty, it cannot be done afterwards.
When should I seek legal advice for Driving Under the Influence?
It may be beneficial to seek legal advice if the any of the following circumstances apply:
- Wish to contest a Driving Under the Influence offence.
- You have been charged with three or more drink driving offences within the last five years.
- You would like advice on your prospect of success in appealing a decision regarding the disqualification period.
- You would like some advice and information on applying for work licenses.