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Caught Drink Driving? Penalties including disqualification periods

Updated: Feb 21

DRINK DRIVING – BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION OFFENCES

In Victoria, drink driving offences are prosecuted under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic). To commence a prosecution against a driver for drink driving, the police must prove a drive drove their motor vehicle while exceeding the prescribed concentration of alcohol. The prescribed concentration of alcohol is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or more, and in some cases the prescribed concentration of alcohol is 0.00%.

Different factors, different penalties


The consequences of a drink driving offence in Victoria will vary greatly depending upon such factors as:

· Age of the driver

· Type of license held by the driver

· Blood alcohol concentration alleged

· Whether first or subsequent offence for drink driving


Disqualification periods under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

The period of disqualification depends upon the BAC and whether a first or second offence.


First offences

- *3 months if BAC 0.00 or more but less than 0.05

6 months if BAC 0.05 or more but less than 0.10

- 10 months if BAC 0.10 or more but less than 0.11

11 months if BAC 0.11 or more but less than 0.12

- 12 months if BAC 0.12 or more but less than 0.13

- 13 months if BAC 0.13 or more but less than 0.14

- 14 months if BAC 0.14 or more but less than 0.15

- 15 months if BAC 0.15 or more but less than 0.16

- 16 months if BAC 0.16 or more but less than 0.17

- 17 months if BAC 0.17 or more but less than 0.18

- 18 months if BAC 0.18 or more but less than 0.19

- 19 months if BAC 0.19 or more but less than 0.20

- 20 months if BAC 0.20 or more but less than 0.21

- 21 months if BAC 0.21 or more but less than 0.22

- 22 months if BAC 0.22 or more but less than 0.23

- 23 months if BAC 0.22 or more but less than 0.24

- 24 months if BAC 0.24 or more

** Where license holder has a 0.00% BAC condition on their license.

Second or subsequent offences

Double disqualification period applies. So, a second offence with a BAC of 0.05 or more will result in a minimum disqualification of 12 months. A second offence BAC offence of 0.11, will be 20 months, and so forth.


To visit the current legislation refer to Schedule 1 of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)


It can be an offence dealt with by a Traffic Infringement, otherwise it goes to Court

If a license holder has a full license, and is 26 years or older, and the BAC offence is 0.69% or under, a Traffic Infringement Notice will be served, and the period of disqualification is 3 months. For offences where the BAC% exceeds 0.69 or where a 2nd or subsequent offence, the matte will be heard at Court.


The steps to getting a driver’s license reissued

Successful completion of the Drink Driver Behaviour Change Program is a condition to getting a license reissued by VicRoads. This is a 6-hour course completed over 2 sessions. An intensive drink driver program must be completed where the BAC% is over 0.15% or for a subsequent offence.

For first offenders, with a BAC offence below 0.15%, the application to obtain the license will be made directly to VicRoads. In addition, the law requires compliance with 2 license conditions: a condition not to drive unless:

- Motor vehicle fitted with an interlock device.

- BAC is 0.00%


Interlock periods

The period for which an Interlock must be fitted to a motor vehicle depends on:

- BAC reading

- First or subsequent offence

For first offences a minimum period of 6 months applies. For a second offences with a BAC reading of under 0.15%, a period of 12 months applies

For second offences with a BAC reading of 0.15 or more, a period of 4 years applies. The same period for 3 or more offences.

An offence is a subsequent offence if it occurs within the previous 10 years (of the earlier offence)

Court outcomes for Drink Driving

The gravity of a drink drive offence turns upon factors relevant to the offence, and factors relevant to the offender.

Circumstances of the offence

A drink driving offence will fall to be considered at the upper end of seriousness where the BAC reading is high, and there are other aggravating features such as speeding or dangerous driving. The seriousness may also be accentuated where an accident has occurred and there is damage to property or injury ensues to another motorist or pedestrian.

Circumstances relevant to the offender

Where an offender has a poor history for drink driving, the seriousness of the offence is compounded, even where the BAC% may be moderate.

Serious examples of drink driving can and do result in orders for imprisonment.


Actual sentencing outcomes in the Magistrates’ Court


As a guide, the Sentencing Advisory Council has produced data relating to sentencing outcomes for the period 30 June 2016 to 1 July 2019 for drink driving offences (bac offences) finalised in the Magistrates’ Court.


Drive or in charge of motor vehicle while exceeding prescribed concentration of alcohol (s 49(1)(b)

Imprisonment – 4%

Community Correction Order – 13.5%

Fine – 75.3%

Adjourned undertaking/dismissal – 6.7%

Exceed prescribed concentration of alcohol within 3 hours of driving motor vehicle (s.49(1)(f) – breath test (s.49(1)(f)

Imprisonment – 3.4%

Community Correction Order – 10.1%

Fine – 80.0%

Adjourned undertaking/dismissal – 6.4%

Exceed prescribed concentration of alcohol within 3 hours of driving motor vehicle (s.49(1)(f) – blood test (s.49(1)(g)

Imprisonment – 4.7%

Community Corrections Order – 14.3%

Fine – 71.7%

Adjourned undertaking/dismissal – 9.2%

Your interests are best served by getting legal advice

Whilst some cases may seem cut and dried, it is always important to get legal advice if you are confronting a drink drive offence. Victoria has a mandatory disqualification regime for drink driving offences. There is no opportunity at law for a work license, or for a Court to impose a period less than the statutory minimums described above. Consequently, it is important to discuss the prospects of defending a drink drive offence, or to otherwise mitigate the penalty. For an obligation free case assessment, where your options can be discussed at length, call our office on (03) 9668 7600 and we will arrange an appointment.


Useful links:

Getting your license back (VicRoads publication)

Applying to get your license back (Magistrates’ Court of Victoria)

Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)



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Level 8
488 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Vic 3000

Ph: (03) 9668 7600