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Drink driving penalties in QLD

The penalties for drink driving here in Queensland can vary depending on the type of offence you’ve been charged with, the circumstances surrounding your charge and whether you have been convicted of drink driving charges before or not. If you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence, we discuss what you can expect. 


First time drink driving offender

To be considered a first-time drink driving offender, you will not have a prior history of drink driving. Typically, the court will be looking at your history over the last 5 years. Anything before this may not be considered. Find out if drink driving is a criminal offence in Queensland.

Second time drink driving offender

You will be considered a second-time drink-driving offender if you have been convicted of a drink-driving charge in the last 5 years. This will usually incur a much harsher penalty than a first-time offence.

Third time drink driving offender

You can be considered a third-time drink driving offender when you have been charged with two drink driving or similar offences in the last 5 years. This will involve a more severe penalty than both a first and second-time offender.

Different types of drink driving charges

Low range drink driving charge

A low-range drink driving offence means that you have been caught in control of a vehicle whilst having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.05% but under 0.10%.

The penalty for a low range drink driving offence

The penalty for a low range drink-driving offence is a mandatory disqualification period and a monetary fine. The disqualification period can be anything from 1 to 12 months, and the fine can be up to $1,929.

Mid-range drink driving charge

A mid-range drink driving offence means that your BAC is over 0.10% to 0.149%. This charge is considered serious and will carry harsher penalties as a result. 

The penalty for a mid-range drink driving offence

A mid-range drink driving charge will usually carry a 3 to 12-month disqualification period along with a fine of up to $2,757.

High range drink driving charge

A high-range drink driving charge is considered the most serious of all the three and will have the harshest penalties attached to it. You will be charged with a high-range drink driving charge if you have a BAC of 0.150 or more.

The penalty for a high range drink driving offence

The disqualification period for a high-range drink driving charge is a minimum of 6 months. The fine can be up to $3,859.


It is important to note that the penalties mentioned above are the standard however, other penalties may be imposed on you including jail time, an alcohol interlock device may be installed on your vehicle or you may be ordered to do community service especially if you are a repeat offender. If you would like proper advice given the specifics of your case, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible so you know where you stand and what to expect.

What happens when I've been charged with a drink driving charge?

Once you have been formally charged by the police, you will be given a notice to appear in court. You will be suspended from driving immediately and for the next 24 hours, although if you have been charged with a mid to high-range drink driving charge, you may be disqualified from driving until your court date. If this happens to you and you need your licence from now until you attend court, you may be able to have it removed. You should seek legal advice on how to go about this.

Once your court date arrives, you will have your matter heard in court, the Magistrate will impose a disqualification period on your licence, and you will be given a monetary fine at the minimum. Your disqualification period commences immediately, and you must not drive home after court, so be sure to make alternative arrangements.

If you would like to apply for a work licence, you will have to ask the Magistrate if you can have your matter adjourned until a later date so you can organise the necessary paperwork to apply.

What happens if I want to plead not guilty?

There are very limited circumstances where a not guilty plea will be considered for a drink driving charge here in Queensland. If you do believe you have been wrongfully charged, you should speak to an experienced traffic lawyer as soon as you can. They will be able to advise you of the best course of action given your situation and whether you have a valid defence to pleading not guilty.

Contact your local and leading traffic lawyers

Queensland courts take a tough stance on drink driving offences regardless of whether it is your first time or not. The consequences can have a detrimental effect on almost all aspects of your life which is why it is smart to speak to an experienced traffic law team such as ours here at Drink Driver Lawyer.

We can help you achieve the best outcome possible, allowing you to get on with your life. Contact us today for an obligation free consultation.

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