Are you wondering what is a DUI? DUI stands for driving under the influence. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drug, or drink driving, is a serious offence as it not only poses a risk to your safety, but also to others. In this article, we will explore the question: what is a DUI?
What is a DUI?
When exploring the question of “what is a DUI” in NSW, it is necessary to check what the legislation says in relation to DUI. Section 112 of the Road Transport Act (2013) outlines the offence of DUI.
It states that a person must not, while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug:
- drive a vehicle, or
- occupy the driving seat of a vehicle and attempt to put the vehicle in motion, or
- if the person is the holder of an applicable driver licence (other than an applicable provisional licence or applicable learner licence) – occupy the seat in or on a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.
Below are the maximum penalties:
- in the case of a first offence – 30 penalty units or imprisonment for 18 months, or both, or
- in the case of a second or subsequent offence – 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.
Furthermore, subsection (2) of the Section 112 states that if a person faces a charge of this offence:
- the court attendance notice (CAN) may allege the person was under the influence of more than one drug and is not liable to be dismissed on the ground of uncertainty or duplicity if each of those drugs is described in the CAN.
- the offence is proved if the court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was under the influence of–
- a drug described in the court attendance notice, or
- a combination of drugs any one or more of which was or were described in the CAN
What Is a DUI: Proof
If a person is charged with drink driving offences or DUI in NSW, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they:
- Drove a vehicle
- Occupied a passenger seat of a car while a learner driver is driving
- Occupied the driver’s seat of a vehicle and attempted to put the vehicle in motion
DUI vs PCA
In NSW, DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol) are terms used in relation to impaired driving offences, and they have specific legal implications:
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence): As we have explored, this offence involves operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to an extent that it affects the person’s ability to drive safely. In NSW, DUI can encompass impairment by alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medications, or a combination thereof. It’s not solely based on exceeding a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit but also considers impairment level.
- PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol): PCA refers to the legal limit of alcohol concentration allowed in a person’s breath, blood, or urine while driving. It sets a specific BAC limit beyond which a person is considered to be in breach of the law. You can view the legal PCA limits here.
So, while DUI focuses on the impairment level regardless of specific BAC limits, PCA sets the legal BAC limit that drivers must not exceed while operating a vehicle. Exceeding the PCA limit can lead to charges of driving over the legal alcohol limit, while DUI charges may apply if impairment is evident regardless of whether the BAC is over the limit.
Penalties for both offences can include fines, license suspension, mandatory participation in education programs, and, in severe cases, imprisonment. The penalties can vary based on the level of impairment, previous offences, and other factors involved in the incident.
What Is a DUI: Example Scenario
Marianne had a great evening with friends in Sydney. As the night wound down, she realised she had a few drinks more than she planned. Despite feeling a little buzzed, she thought she was okay to drive the short distance home.
On her way, she was pulled over by the police for a routine check. Her heart raced as the officer suspected she had been drinking. After administering a breathalyser test, Sarah’s fears were confirmed – she was over the legal limit.
The consequences were immediate – her licence suspended, hefty fines imposed, and the looming worry of a criminal record. What seemed like a harmless decision turned into a life-altering mistake that could have been avoided.
Importance of Seeking Advice from Criminal and Traffic Lawyers
Seeking advice from criminal and traffic lawyers for drunk driving or drink driving offence can be crucial for several reasons:
- Legal Expertise: Lawyers specialising in criminal and traffic law have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the legal system. They can provide insights into the complexities of the law, potential consequences of charges, and available defences.
- Case Evaluation: Lawyers can assess the specifics of your case, examining evidence, witness statements, and other crucial details. This evaluation helps in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your case and guides the best course of action.
- Protection of Rights: Lawyers ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. They understand the legal procedures and can ensure that all legal protocols are followed, preventing any violations of your rights.
- Negotiation and Representation: They can negotiate with prosecutors for plea bargains or reduced charges, aiming for the best possible outcome. If the case goes to trial, lawyers can represent you effectively, presenting your case in the best light.
- Minimisation of Consequences: In the case of traffic violations or criminal charges, seeking legal advice can help minimise the potential consequences, such as reduced fines, lesser penalties, or even the dismissal of charges in some instances.
- Guidance and Support: Dealing with legal matters can be stressful and confusing. Lawyers not only provide legal guidance but also offer emotional support and clarity during a challenging time.
Seeking advice from legal experts early in the process can significantly impact the outcome of your case. They can offer valuable guidance and strategies to navigate the complexities of the legal system effectively.