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Low Range Drink Driving (PCA)

If you’ve been charged with low range PCA, we can help defend you in court to reduce your fine and your disqualification period. Our team is led by ex-police prosecutors, so we know how the system works. Save money and get back on the road sooner. Claim your free case evaluation now.

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What is Low Range PCA?

The offence of low range PCA is committed if you drive a motor vehicle on a road, or supervise a learner driver, with a blood alcohol limit above 0.049 but below 0.079.

Penalties for Low Range PCA

Low Range PCA – first offence penalties

Fine Disqualification
$2200 6 months – can be reduced but not less than 3 months.

Low Range PCA – second alcohol related offence within 5 years

Fine Disqualification Interlock
$3300 With interlock order: 3 months (can be reduced but not less than 1 month)

Exempted from interlock: 12 months – can be reduced but not less than 6 months.
12 month interlock condition on your licence

Process for low range drink driving (PCA) charges

Police will first administer a roadside breath test. Normally you speak into the device first and this gives an indication of whether there is any alcohol present in your breath. If that test is positive then you’ll be required to blow into a tube attached to the same device. This gives police an indicative reading. If that reading is above your limit you will be arrested for the purposes of a breath analysis. Breath analysis devices are located in police stations and also RBT buses that are sometimes used in large drink driving operations. The result obtained from blowing into this device is legally deemed to be your reading at the time that you were driving. Once that test is completed you will given some paperwork and usually released from custody. With low range PCA, police have the discretion to issue either a court attendance notice or a penalty notice.

Penalty notices for low range PCA

Police may decide to issue you a penalty notice for low range PCA. The amount is currently set at $556. This means you do not have to go to court. Payment of the penalty notice will not result in a criminal conviction being recorded. You can choose to have the matter determined by a court. A court may find you guilty and choose not to record a conviction. However, taking these matters to court is not without risk as you may have a conviction recorded on your record and face higher penalties.

Immediate licence suspension for low range PCA

If you are issued with a court attendance notice or penalty notice for low range drink driving you may also receive an immediate police suspension notice. If you hold a NSW licence that means it is immediately suspended and you cannot drive. If you hold an international or interstate licence it means the authority to drive within NSW is suspended. If police issue a court attendance notice the suspension is in place until your matter is finalised by a court. If police issue a penalty notice the suspension is in place for a period of 3 months unless; you elect to have the matter heard at court and it is finalised, or the penalty notice is withdrawn. If you are considering an appeal against an immediate police suspension you can read more here. Appeals against immediate police suspensions are less likely to be successful than other types of licence appeals. This is because the legal test is much higher. You need to prove to the court that there are exceptional circumstances why you should have your licence back. If your matter is going to be heard at court a successful appeal will only allow you to drive up until the matter is finalised at court. A court may still convict you and impose a period of disqualification following a successful appeal. If you do not appeal, then the court can take the period of suspension into account when setting a period of disqualification.

Court process for low range PCA

If you receive a court attendance notice you will need to attend court on the date listed on your court attendance notice. Similarly, if you received a penalty notice and elected to have the court determine your matter, you will also receive a court attendance notice. The first appearance at court for a low range drink driving charge is a mention date. It will most likely be in a busy list with many other people. Everyone’s court attendance notice says 9.30am so you may be there quite some time. At the mention date you can tell the court whether you would like to plead guilty, not guilty or seek an adjournment. If you plead guilty you may be able to be sentenced on the same day. This is usually not advisable unless you are well prepared. If you plead not guilty you will be allocated a hearing date several weeks away. If you are considering pleading not guilty to a drink driving charge ensure you are aware of the defences to drink driving. You can also ask the court to adjourn your matter for a short time (usually two to four weeks) so that you can speak with a lawyer, obtain some references, and complete an approved traffic offenders program.

Interlock orders for low range PCA

If your conviction for low range PCA is the second PCA offence within five years you will serve an initial period of disqualification, followed by a period where you are subject to an interlock order. This means you can only drive a vehicle fitted with an interlock device. You can seek an exemption order however if this is granted you may be disqualified for a longer period of time.

Is low range PCA a criminal offence

Low range PCA is a criminal offence. If you elect to have your matter heard at court, or are given a court attendance notice by police, you may face a criminal conviction. A criminal conviction for low range drink driving will appear on your criminal record and in criminal background checks. There are generally only two ways in which you can a avoid a criminal conviction for low range PCA. You can plead not guilty and have the matter dismissed if you are successful, or you can persuade the court to deal with the matter by finding you guilty but not recording a conviction.

What is the likely penalty for low range PCA

Statistics from the New South Wales Judicial Commission show that over a recent four year period over 43% of people charged with low range PCA were convicted. Over 55% did not have a conviction recorded. The majority drivers who were not convicted were placed on a bond to be of good behaviour.

Preparing for court

When determining your matter, the Magistrate will read the court attendance notice, police facts sheet, and any material you bring to court. They will also listen to anything that you or your lawyer wish to tell the court. These are called submissions. It is important to ensure that your matter is well prepared. In a busy court there is only limited time for each matter. You need to be able to draw the courts attention to all the relevant considerations quickly. References need to be formatted, addressed and drafted correctly. It is also important that you complete a traffic offenders program.

Why choose Astor Legal

Astor Legal are experts in traffic and criminal law. All of our lawyers are experienced in drink driving matters. Our firm was started by two former police prosecutors who not only handled dozens of these matters every day in court but also used to conduct breath tests and breath analysis tests themselves. We know the systems and processes. Our lawyers will work with you to prepare your matter and then represent you at court. Take advantage of our obligation free case assessment and find out how we can get the best outcome for your matter.

Low Range PCA Case Studies

  • No conviction for low range PCA while on good behaviour licence

    One of the main things the court looks at when dealing with a drink driving matter is your criminal and traffic record. In this matter, our client was on a good behaviour licence as she had exceeded her demerit point threshold of 13 points. She did not have what the court would consider a good record.

    Adding to the difficulty of the matter was our clients PCA reading of 0.067, which is at the high end of the low range.

    Knowing that we would be facing these hurdles, we assisted our client in preparing thorough and compelling subjective material outlining a number of key factors including her significant needs for a licence, the impact the traffic offenders program had on her, and her good character. Through the material and our submissions, we were able to persuade the magistrate to deal with the matter by way of non-conviction order, meaning that our client spent no time off the road at all. Needless to say, our client was very pleased with this result.