In Queensland, it is an offence to drive while over the legal alcohol limit. These offences are known as ‘drink driving’ or ‘DUI’ offences and are treated very seriously by the courts.
You should always speak with a Brisbane traffic lawyer if you face a drink driving charge.
Queensland Drink Driving Limits
The law in Queensland states that drivers must be under certain alcohol limits. If they drive over the legal limit, they commit a drink driving offence.
The drink driving limits depend on what licence a person holds and, in some cases, what type of vehicle they are driving.
|Type of Licence||Alcohol Limit|
|All Learner, P1 or P2, Probationary or Restricted Licence holders (regardless of age)||0.00% (zero alcohol limit)|
|Open Licence holders||0.05% (general alcohol limit)|
|Licence holders driving:|
Trucks (GVM over 4.5T)
Buses (more than 12 passengers)
Articulated motor vehicle
Vehicle carrying dangerous goods
Taxi, limousine or similar
Vehicles being used by a driving instructor
Specially constructed vehicles including tractors
|0.00% (zero alcohol limit)|
Drink Driving Penalties in Queensland
There is a wide range of penalties that a court can impose for drink driving.
In most cases, an offender will be fined (ordered to pay a financial penalty). However, in more serious cases, a person may be placed on probation or be required to do unpaid community service.
A court must also order a driver licence disqualification in all drink driving cases. Licence disqualifications are in addition to any other sentence that a court might impose.
Will I Go To Jail for Drink Driving?
In most cases, a person will not go to jail for drink driving. It is always the maximum penalty available.
However, jail is definitely a possibility, and drink drivers regularly get sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
As a general rule, you are more likely to be imprisoned for drink driving if you have a prior history of high-range DUI offences. You are also at serious risk of imprisonment if you injured someone or caused property damage because of your driving.
Importantly, a court must impose a period of imprisonment if you are convicted of a 3rd high-range DUI offence within five years. It does not mean, however, that you automatically go to jail. The court can wholly suspend the jail sentence or grant immediate parole. In both cases, you do not physically go to jail but instead, have the prison sentence hanging over your head.
Will My Driver’s Licence be Disqualified?
If you are convicted of a drink driving offence in Queensland, your Queensland driver’s licence must be disqualified.
The licence disqualification periods will depend on factors such as:
- The type of licence you held
- Your alcohol reading
- Whether you have previous
If it is your first drink driving offence, the minimum disqualification will be:
|Blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC)||Licence disqualification||Maximum term of imprisonment|
|Over 0.00, but under 0.05 BAC (learner, probationary or provisional licences, and drivers of particular motor vehicles)||3 to 9 months||3 months|
|0.05 and over, but under 0.10||1 to 9 months||3 months|
|0.10 and over, but under 0.15||3 to 12 months||6 months|
|0.15 and over||Minimum of 6 months||9 months|
In most cases, a solicitor will be able to help you avoid an unnecessarily lengthy loss of licence. He or she can also give you advice about possible licence applications.
Will I Need an Alcohol Interlock Device?
An alcohol interlock device is a small breath analysing device that is fitted to a vehicle’s ignition. If this device detects alcohol in the driver’s breath, it prevents the vehicle from starting.
In Queensland, there are some situations where you will be required to install an interlock device if you want your licence back after your licence disqualification.
You will need to install an interlock if:
- You were convicted of a high-range offence (0.15% or above); or
- This is your 2nd drink-driving offence within five years.
If you choose not to install an interlock device, you will not be legally able to drive for two years after your disqualification ends.
Can I Apply for a Work Licence?
You may be eligible for a work licence, allowing you to keep driving for work purposes, even though the court must disqualify your driver’s licence.
Several strict criteria must be met to obtain a work licence. Some of these include:
- Your alcohol reading must have been below 0.15%
- You must have held an Open licence at the time of driving
- Your licence must not have been suspended or disqualified in the previous five years (some exceptions apply)
- You can prove that you will suffer extreme financial hardship if you lose your driver’s licence.
If a court grants you a work licence, it will also include conditions that you must follow. These conditions will include:
- The days and hours you are allowed to drive
- The purpose for which you can drive
- Any passengers you can drive
Please note that a work licence is only for work purposes. It does not allow you to drive for any other purpose (such as driving your children to/from school).
If you breach the conditions of a work licence, you will be taken back to court, and you will lose your licence for a further period.
Can I Refuse a Random Breath Test?
If you refuse to provide a specimen of breath when required by a police officer, you will be charged with the offence of “failing to provide a sample of breath”.
This offence is treated similarly to drink driving and, as a result, you will be taken to court and sentenced. You will face the same penalties as for drink driving, including fines, licence disqualifications and potentially even jail.
Will I Need to Go To Court?
Yes. Every person who commits a drink driving offence will be required to attend a courthouse. A magistrate will then determine the appropriate penalty for that person.
Can I Drive Until My Court Date?
If you are charged with a drink driving offence, your licence will be automatically suspended for some time. The period will depend on the actual charge.
Suppose you are charged with driving under the influence of liquor (high-range drink driving). In that case, your licence will be automatically suspended until your case is finalised in court.
However, if you are charged with low- or mid-range drink driving, your licence will only be suspended for 24 hours.
The police officer who charges you with the DUI offence must give you a Notice of Suspension, which states explicitly how long your licence is suspended.
If you drive during the suspension period, you will be charged with unlicensed driving, and you face severe penalties, including a possible licence disqualification of 2-5 years.
Is It Worth Hiring Drink Driving Lawyers?
If you have been charged with drink driving, you should seek legal advice from a drink driving lawyer as soon as possible.
Traffic offences involving drink driving are serious matters. They can result in severe penalties, including heavy fines, license disqualifications and, in some cases, imprisonment.
In all drink driving cases, you need expert legal representation. A DUI lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with all aspects of Queensland’s drink driving laws will help you get the best outcome possible.
Even though there will be a fee to hire a solicitor, the expert representation you will receive will mean the benefits far outweigh the cost.
How Can Harper Finch Lawyers Help?
Harper Finch Lawyers are Queensland’s leading traffic and criminal law firm. Our decades of experience mean we know the traffic laws back-to-front and can help you avoid a lengthy driver licence disqualification.
Our experienced traffic lawyers will guide you through the entire process from start to finish. We are always available to answer any questions you might have about your case.
Also, our fixed fees will give you peace of mind. You will never need to worry about hidden costs – you will know what to expect right from the beginning.
If you have been charged with a drink driving or DUI offence and want to discuss your options, get in touch with our expert drink driving lawyers today. We regularly appear in courts throughout Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and all other Queensland courts.