gallery Getting your license back following a drink driving offence

Written by Shaun Pascoe. Solicitor, Doogue + George Criminal Lawyers, Heidelberg

So, you have been charged with a drink driving offence and have been to Court.

It’s done and over and you are off the road for some time.

And now? What’s next?

What happens after you are nearing the end of your licence suspension? What steps should you take to get your licence restored?  You’ve heard about an interlock device, what is it? Will you need to have one?

Read on. We will answer all of these questions and set you on the right path to getting your licence back.

This article covers the procedure for licence restoration in Victoria. The law governing license restorations is contained in the Road Safety Act 1986 and the information that follows is drawn from this legislation.

The Steps

If it is your first drink driving offence (and you have a probationary or full license) the steps you must take to get your license back are:

  1. Attend your local Magistrates Court and lodge an application for license restoration.
  2. The current applicable fee is $81.90 and this is paid at the same time the application is lodged.
  3. The Court will fix a hearing date 28 days after the date your application is lodged.
  4. In the meantime you need to complete a Drink Driver Education Course and attend a police interview (usually held 1 week before the date for your hearing)
  5. Attend the Court hearing and give evidence in support of your application

These steps are also applicable for persons who have committed a subsequent offence; however there is an additional requirement for the applicant to undergo a drink driving assessment within the 28 day period leading up to the license restoration hearing.  The convenor of the drink driving program usually undertakes the assessment.

The Court Hearing

A successful application depends; not only on whether the applicant has met all the requirements described above, but also that the applicant has demonstrated an awareness of the dangers of drink driving and can effectively communicate what they learnt through their participation in the drink driving education course.

As a general guide, an applicant who self-represents should consider the following questions in preparation for their hearing:

  • What were the circumstances of the offence resulting in the period of disqualification?
  • If a fine was imposed for that offence, has it been paid?
  • Confirmation of successful completion of the drink driving course?
  • Be able to explain the effects of alcohol consumption upon driving (for example, delayed reaction time, etc)
  • Awareness of what a standard drink is and the applicable elimination rate for standard drink/hr.
  • Awareness of the worst possible outcome of a further drink drive offence (kill/seriously injure another person, possibility of imprisonment)
  • Current drinking habits
  • The need for your license (work, driving kids to school, from school etc)

One patent advantage to obtaining representation for your application is that your lawyer will take you through these questions prior to your hearing. Some applicants feel more comfortable answering questions from their lawyer at the hearing than from a police prosecutor or Magistrate.

Interlock

An interlock is a breathalyser wired to the engine of your car which prevents the engine starting if the device records a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) greater than 0%. Whether an interlock condition is imposed depends upon various factors including:

  • Age
  • License status
  • BAC
  • First or second offence

The variables

If you are 26 or over, it is your firstoffence and your BAC is 0.07-0.149%, the Court has discretion not to impose an interlock condition. If the Magistrate does decide to impose an interlock condition it will be for a period of 6 months.

The same discretion exists where the disqualification occurred before 11th October 2006, was a first offence and the BAC reading was 0.15%.  If the offence occurred after the 11th October 2006 or was a refusal offence (refuse to provide preliminary/evidential breath test, refuse to accompany police to the police station, etc) then a mandatory minimum of 6 months applies.

If the first offence resulted in a BAC reading of 0.15% or over, then a mandatory 6 month minimum period with an interlock applies.

If you are under 26 or on a probationary license, it is your first offences and your BAC reading is 0.07%-0.149%, the Court must impose a minimum period of 6 months.

For a second offence (within 10 a year period) where the date of disqualification is between 14/5/2002 – 10/10/2006, the Court must impose a minimum of 7 months if the last offence recorded a BAC under 0.15%.  A minimum period of 3 years applies if the last offence registered a reading over 0.15%.

In cases where the second offence within the 10 years period was committed on or after the 11th October 2006, the Court must impose a minimum of 12 months, where the last offence recorded a BAC under 0.15%.  If the last offence registered a BAC of over 0.15%, was a refusal offence or a driving while impaired offence, a minimum period of 4 years applies.

A note about what amounts to a subsequent offence.
Whether an offence that occurs many years after an earlier offence is a “subsequent offence” depends upon the date of the application. This is deemed relevant for the purposes of deciding if an interlock condition must be imposed or to determine the minimum period for the interlock. A lawyer can advise you as to how a Court will deal with any priors as they relate to your application to be re-licensed.

Issues such as these can be overlooked in their significance and underestimated in how they can affect a person’s life. The field of licence restoration is quite technical and requires a great level of knowledge and expertise in this area. The right lawyer will know how to present your case to the Magistrate to minimise your penalty.

Check out Shaun Pascoe’s Google+ Profile.

[Image courtesy of StockFreeImages.com]

6 comments

  1. I have a friend in Australia who represented himself, his reading was high ( not sure how high but the judge wasn’t happy) and had order he get he take a liver test and appear again!

    He made a mistake which he completely understands, thankfully, there was no damage or injury to anyone or anything other than his pride for being so stupid.

    He had been drinking for years ( at least 30yrs) not during the week as he holds a responsible job, where he needs his license, but at the weekends he does let loose.

    So my question is – if the liver test shows signs of deterioration because of alcohol ( which it probably will) how will this effect him get his license restored?

    He has completed everything else required and was expecting to get an interlocking system

    Thanks

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