Legal Guide

Can I Be Charged for Admitting to Drink Driving?

If you’re pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), you can be charged for admitting to the offense. Remember, your admission, albeit accidental, can be used against you. Plus, your spontaneous excuses in defence of yourself may not help. 

While it’s advisable to stay calm and not say anything, we all know that’s not how it always plays out - you may volunteer incriminating information while intoxicated. If you’re on the hook for a DUI charge in court, it pay to engaging drink driving lawyers to help protect your rights and provide  professional legal advice. Besides, you’re more likely to get a better outcome if you involve a lawyer rather than go it alone. 

Generally, penalties for a DUI offense are wide-ranging and include:

  • License suspension for up to 6 months
  • Fine
  • License cancellation if you fail to complete an alcohol awareness course, behavior change program or drug driver program
  • Installation of an alcohol interlock device in your car

Imagine the prospect of losing your license and how it could impact your ability to fearn an income to support your family? When such a reality sinks in, it becomes evident why enlisting a knowledgeable legal representative is critical. A reputable lawyer can help you overturn a conviction.

Let’s assume you’re due to face the magistrate in court. What variables would they consider before making a conviction? Here’s a breakdown of two factors that affect the penalty you’re likely to face and how an experienced drink driving lawyer can lend you a hand. 

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Test

Law enforcers use BAC tests to determine the level of a suspect’s intoxication. For instance, in most Australian states, the BAC limit is 0.05. Drivers of commercial vehicles, learners, and probationary drivers should have a zero BAC as they have certain restrictions on their licence. 

The law requires drivers suspected of drunk driving to submit to a breathalyzer test. Refusal of such tests could lead to punitive fines or even imprisonment. In New South Wales, refusal to take a test attracts a $1,100 fine.  

Prosecutors usually rely on breath or BAC test results as evidence in DUI cases. While the former provides instantaneous results, the latter takes time- up to several weeks, and tends to be more accurate. If the results indicate you’ve exceeded the set limit, you’re likely to face DUI charges. If you are faced with this situation, it would be best to have a competent lawyer fight for you in such a case.

Along the same lines, a lot can happen between the time you take a test and the time the results are due. As a result, a defense lawyer can challenge the reliability of a test by arguing that the sample may have been contaminated. Another defense would be that the police may have acquired the sample after conducting an illegal search. If you feel that you were wronged as police officers seized evidence from you, it might help to talk to your lawyer about it.

Also, blood alcohol levels tend to change from the time in which you drink alcohol, to when it’s actually absorbed into the bloodstream. Thus, your BAC will likely keep rising the longer alcohol is in your system. That implies that if law enforcers delay the test, your BAC would be higher than when you were driving. A lawyer can rely on this defense to push for a dismissal of your charges.

Repeat Offense 

If the DUI offense in question isn’t your first, the magistrate or judge is unlikely to rule in your favour. The same often goes for other offenses - repeat offenders can be a danger to themselves and others, and judges tend to frown upon them.

As a result, repeat offenders face more punitive penalties. Plus, your charges would increase if you’ve committed other offenses, putting you at risk of losing your license for an extended period or paying a higher fine. Law enforcers can also impound your car for particular offenses.

So, what happens if your BAC is below the limit, say 0.02? In some countries, the law may let you off the hook. In others, you can face a DUI charge even if BAC tests show you’ve not exceeded the threshold. For instance, in Queensland, Australia, the judge may suspend your license for up to nine months for an initial offense. You might also have to stay behind bars for up to three months. However, repeat offenses could lead to stiff penalties that include: 

  • License suspension for two years or more - depending on the gravity of your offense and whether you have previous convictions.
  • A fine of up to $5,500.
  • Jail term of two years or more.

An experienced drink driving lawyer can fight your case at trial to prove your innocence and have your case dismissed. They can also advocate for a more lenient sentence in case of conviction. 

A drink driving offense doesn’t have to be as serious as loss of life or damage to property for you to seek legal representation. If you or a loved one are exploring various options, consider talking to drink-driving lawyers to safeguard your rights and interests in court.

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