Drink driving offences are often assumed to be trivial matters, however, this is far from the case. Drink driving, even for first offenders will likely result in a recording of a criminal conviction, a fine and a period of licence disqualification. For much more serious charges a drink driving offence can result in a prison sentence. Therefore, it is necessary to arm yourself with a lawyer specialising in drink-driving defences with a record of success. This article will discuss defences that can be used to beat a drink driving charge.
There is a general perception that a drink driving charge can never be successfully defended. This assumption is not true. While there are a number of drink driving charges that result in pleading guilty there are a fair number of circumstances that make it possible to successfully defend against the drink driving charge. Some defences that can be used in respect of a drink driving charges include the following:
Honest and reasonable mistake – this defence is based on the name of cases which established it. The honest and reasonable mistake of fact defence states that you are not guilty of a drink driving offence if at the time of driving you:
- honestly believed that you were under the limit
- in the opinion of the court it was reasonable for you to hold that belief in all of the circumstances of your case
While such a defence is applicable, in practice this defence can be difficult to succeed on. This is because courts are very cautious to ensure that drink drivers do not get off charges just because they say that they did not think they were over the limit. As a result some general types of cases where this defence may be worth considering include the following situations:
The morning after – if you had been drinking the previous night and then went to bed and had a decent sleep until the following morning honestly thinking that all the alcohol you had consumed the previous night would have been eliminated from your system, it may be likely that a court would accept that as reasonable on your part. However, much depends on the alcohol reading, the number of hours since your last drink and how much you had to drink the previous night. If this is your situation it is important to speak to a lawyer about using this as a defence.
Relying on the rule of thumb – this is where you have relied on the rule of thumb which used to be taught by the RMS (RTA) to learner drivers. The rule was:
- For men – 2 standard drinks in the first hour and 1 each hour thereafter
- For women – 1 standard drink an hour
This rule is no longer publicized by the RTA because it has been shown to be inaccurate. However, many people still use it because this is the rule they were taught when studying for their L plates.
If you have been charged with drink driving offences NSW