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HIGH RANGE PRESCRIBED CONCENTRATION OF ALCOHOL OFFENCES IN NSW

A person commits a high range prescribed concentration of alcohol (High Range PCA) offence if the person has a reading of 0.15 or more and they:

  1. Drive a motor vehicle;
  2. Occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle and attempt to put the vehicle in motion; or
  3. As an appropriate licence holder, occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.

The maximum penalty for a first time High Range PCA offender is a $3,300.00 fine and imprisonment for 18 months. In addition, the offender faces licence cancellation and an automatic licence disqualification period of 3 years, which can be reduced to a minimum of 12 months.

For a second or subsequent High Range PCA offender, the maximum penalty is a fine of $5,500.00 and imprisonment for two years. In addition, the offender faces licence cancellation and an automatic licence disqualification period of 5 years, which can be reduced to a minimum of 2 years.

There is a Guideline Judgement that applies to High Range PCA offences in New South Wales.

The Guideline Judgement was delivered by the NSW Criminal Court of Appeal on 8 September 2004.

The purpose of the Guideline Judgement is to provide a guide for courts sentencing offenders for High Range PCA offences so as to ensure consistency and parity of sentencing. It is important to note that the Sentencing Courts are not bound by the Guideline Judgement.

The Guideline Judgement provides:

  1. An ordinary case of the offence of High Range PCA is one where:
    1. The offender drove to avoid personal inconvenience or because the offender did not believe that he or she was sufficiently affected by alcohol;
    2. The offender was detected by a random breath test;
    3. The offender has prior good character;
    4. The offender has nil, or a minor, traffic record;
    5. The offender’s licence was suspended on detection;
    6. The offender pleaded guilty;
    7. There is little or no risk of re-offending;
    8. The offender would be significantly inconvenienced by loss of licence. 
  2. In an ordinary case of an offence of High Range PCA:
    1. An order under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act [i.e. non-conviction penalties] will rarely be appropriate;
    2. A conviction cannot be avoided only because the offender has attended, or will attend, a driver’s education or awareness course;
    3. The automatic disqualification period will be appropriate unless there is good reason to reduce the period of disqualification;
    4. A good reason under (c) may include:
      1. The nature of the offender’s employment;
      2. The absence of any viable alternative transport;
      3. Sickness or infirmity of the offender or another person. 
  3. In an ordinary case of a second or subsequent High Range PCA:
    1. An order under section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act [i.e. good behaviour bond with conviction] will rarely be appropriate;
    2. An order under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act would very rarely be appropriate;
    3. Where the prior offence was a High Range PCA, any sentence of less severity than a community service order would generally be inappropriate. 
  4. The moral culpability of a High Range PCA offender is increased by:
    1. The degree of intoxication above 0.15;
    2. Erratic or aggressive driving;
    3. A collision between the vehicle and any other object;
    4. Competitive driving or showing off;
    5. The length of the journey at which others are exposed to risk;
    6. The number of persons actually put at risk by the driving. 
  5. In a case where the moral culpability of a High Range PCA offender is increased:
    1. An order under section 9 or section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act would very rarely be appropriate;
    2. Where a number of factors of aggravation are present to a significant degree, a sentence of any less severity than imprisonment of some kind, including a suspended sentence, would generally be inappropriate. 
  6. In a case where the moral culpability of the offender of a second or subsequent High Range PCA offence is increased:
    1. A sentence of any less severity than imprisonment of some kind would generally be inappropriate;
    2. Where any number of aggravating factors are present to a significant degree or where the prior offence is a High Range PCA offence, a sentence of less severity than full-time imprisonment would generally be inappropriate.

For experienced and professional advice and representation in drink driving matters, or any other court matters, contact the solicitors at Burt & Hanke Legal in Albury.