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Drink driving reforms for lower range offences

From 20 May 2019, tougher penalties apply for drink driving in NSW, including immediate licence suspension for any drink driving offence. On-the-spot fines may also be issued for first time lower range offences.

The change is part of a number of reforms in the Road Safety Plan 2021 to reduce alcohol and drug related trauma on NSW roads.

What has changed?

From 20 May 2019, if a driver commits a low, special or novice range drink driving offence, NSW Police can immediately suspend the driver’s licence.

In the case of a first time offence, the driver’s licence can be suspended for 3 months and an on-the-spot fine can also be issued.

Prior to the reforms, all drivers charged with drink driving on NSW roads were required to attend court to have their penalty determined. Drivers who were charged with a low range offence did not lose their licence immediately, and were able to continue to drive until their court date.

What drivers need to know?

  • NSW Police can now immediately suspend the licence of any driver caught drink driving on NSW roads, including lower range and first time offenders.
  • In the case of a first time, low, novice or special range offence, a driver’s licence may be suspended for a period of 3 months, coupled with an on-the‐spot fine of $572 (Level 7 penalty notice – value from 1 July 2019).
  • If you receive an immediate licence suspension, you are required to hand your licence to Police, and are not permitted to drive. You may need to make alternative arrangements to get home from the roadside or police station.
  • If you have received a penalty notice and immediate suspension for a drink‐driving offence, you can elect to have the matter determined in court and appeal your suspension.
  • If you have received a penalty notice or an immediate suspension for a drink driving offence, you may wish to seek legal advice before making the decision to go to court. Higher penalties and longer periods of licence disqualification can be applied by the court and a conviction may be recorded.
  • Significant penalties apply for driving while your licence is suspended.

Offences and penalties related to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in NSW.