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    Drink driving is one of the most common offences in NSW so its no surprise there are a lot of misconceptions and urban myths out there about the offence.

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      Myth v Fact

      Top 5 Drink Driving Myths

      Drink driving myths are incredibly common. As criminal and traffic lawyers in NSW we talk to and represent people charged with drink driving every day.

      We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions and addressed a few urban myths that need busting.  

      The top 5 most common drink driving myths are below.

      1. Drink Driving Isn’t a Criminal Offence

      This is another drink driving misconception – in NSW drink driving is absolutely a criminal offence for which you can be convicted. It is not just a traffic offence or a ticket. Most drivers charged with drink driving end up with a criminal record.

      Convictions are entries on a criminal record that are disclosable. This means that it will show up on criminal record checks for visas or employment checks. If you have a conviction on your record, you must disclose it honestly and truthfully.

      Convictions must be disclosed on criminal background checks

      In NSW, drink driving is dealt with quite strictly. If the court convicts someone for a drink driving, then they will also be fined and disqualified from driving.

      2. Everyone gets a section 10 for their first one

      This is absolutely untrue and probably the most damaging drink driving misconception around. The penalties for each kind of drink driving offence differ. Driving with a middle range or high range PCA offences both have full time jail as the maximum penalty.

      There is also a Guideline Judgment in NSW. This outlines how courts and magistrates should approach and deal with drink driving offences. The Guideline Judgment says that for high range drink driving offences, section 10s will be incredibly rare. Even if it is your first offence.

      Gift wrapped section 10

      Unfortunately, this particular drink driving misconception results in many people representing themselves at court. Many people mistakenly believe they’ll get a slap on the wrist. Being underprepared and not seeking advice from a lawyer almost always ends in a worse outcome.

      3. If I refuse the test I won’t get charged

      Again, this is false. Refusing a roadside breath test, or a breath analysis at usually leads to a different kind of charge.

      Refusing a breath analysis is a serious offence. It carries a maximum penalty of 18 months’ imprisonment for a first offence. If you’re convicted a second time that increases to 2 years. It is by no means insignificant.

      Refusing a breath test can also result in the court taking other aspects of your conduct into account. Belligerent, rude or obstinate conduct only makes matters worse.

      4. I can drink alcohol while driving

      In NSW, Road Rule 298-1 says that a driver must not consume alcohol while driving. It is a common misconception that you are able to drink while driving provided you stay under the legal limit.

      Mouth alcohol can provide false positives, or substantially higher readings. Every sip of alcohol also has the ability to impair a drivers cognitive ability and reaction time.

      Drinking alcohol while driving is an offence in NSW

      5. I have to plead guilty to drink driving

      Despite all the misconceptions about drink driving there are also ways to defend a drink driving charge:

      • If the police do not complete the test within 2 hours then the breath sample may not be admissible.
      • If your reading has gone up between driving and completing the test. A lawyer can obtain a report about this and ask the police to lower or withdraw the charges.
      • If the police cannot prove that you were driving within the required time.
      • If police breath tested you at your home

      Obviously, it is important to get advice about this before entering a plea of not guilty. A plea of not guilty will erode the discount you receive upon an early plea of guilty being entered.

      Charged with drink driving?

      If you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence it can have serious impacts on your life. Penalties include licence disqualifications, fines, community service and even jail. It’s important not to believe the urban myths and misconceptions about drink driving out there. Speak to a Sydney drink driving lawyer who understands traffic law and specialises in representing people in drink driving matters.

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