Is Drink Driving a Criminal Offence?

Video Transcript

Is drink driving a criminal offence in Queensland?

Why does it even matter if it is?

My name is Dave Abrey, I’m a Brisbane Criminal Lawyer and that’s what we’re going to discuss right now.

Is drink driving a criminal offence and why does it matter?

It actually matters a lot because there’s a big difference between convictions for traffic offences and convictions for criminal offences. It can change the penalties that you can receive and can also have a serious impact on your life.

Let me give you some examples.

If you’re applying for a job, you might be asked to provide your criminal record. This is only going to show convictions for criminal offences such as drug offences, assaults and dishonesty offences. It won’t show convictions for traffic offences such as speeding or using your mobile phone while driving. Therefore unless you’re specifically asked to provide your traffic history, which most people aren’t, your future employer will never find out about your previous traffic offences.

Another example is if you want to travel. You often need to disclose any criminal history you have when applying for a visa to enter another country. If you have a criminal record, there’s a good chance you won’t be allowed in. But it’s unlikely you’d be asked to provide details about traffic offences as most countries don’t really care about them.

A third example is if you are part of a professional association where you need to disclose any offences you’ve been charged with. This can include lawyers, doctors and so on. A criminal conviction could prevent you from becoming part of that association or getting a professional licence.

So what about drink driving offences? Are they traffic offences or are they criminal offences?

Well, if you wanted to get really technical, there could be an argument that they’re criminal offences. But I’m not going to bore you with all the details because all you probably want to know is the answer.

In Queensland, the offence of drink driving is treated as a traffic offence, even if it’s a serious offence of driving under the influence of alcohol.

This means that a drink driving conviction will show up on the same traffic record as any speeding fines you’ve got. It should not show up on your criminal history and you will probably never need to tell anyone about it.

There are, however, some exceptions to this.

For example, you may need to tell your motor vehicle insurer that you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence.

Also, there are some situations where you may still need to disclose a drink driving conviction to future employers or when applying to enter some countries.

For this reason, I will always find out if a drink driving conviction could have an impact on my clients. If it could have an impact, I’ll make an application to the magistrate to not record a conviction. Most magistrates will need a lot of convincing before they’ll agree to not record a drink driving conviction and therefore the more information you can provide to your lawyer about how a conviction could impact you, the better chance you’ll have.

So what should you do if you are charged with a drink driving offence in Queensland?

The first thing you should always do is speak with a lawyer who handles traffic law cases. They will be able to take full instructions from you and will be able to give you advice about whether a conviction is going to impact you or not.

Hopefully this has been useful for you. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond. Also, make sure you subscribe so that you stay up to date with Queensland drink driving laws.

Thanks for watching and until next time, stay safe.