Police gave me a “Notice of Licence Disqualification or Suspension” for drink driving. Will I still need to go to court?

The answer is: YES

In South Australia, police can issue a notice of licence suspension (or disqualification) to a person believed to have committed a certain type of drink driving offence. Commonly, a notice will be given by a police officer at the completion of a breath analysis where the result is a positive reading of 0.08% or more. However, despite receiving a notice, in the ordinary course an alleged drink driving offence will need to be finalised in a Magistrates Court.

>> A “Notice of Licence Disqualification or Suspension”

Where a notice is given, an initial suspension (or disqualification) will be imposed for a period as follows:

·  Blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% to 0.149% (PCA category 2 offence – Section 47B(1)) – 6 months

·  Blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or more (PCA category 3 offence – Section 47B(1)) – 12 months

·  Refuse / fail to comply with directions in relation to alcotest or breath analysis (Section 47E(3)) – 12 months

·  Refuse / fail to comply with request for blood sample (Section 47I(14)) – 12 months

The law states that a suspension (or disqualification) imposed by a notice can come to an end in several ways.

In specific circumstances, you can apply to a Magistrates Court to seek an order that you not be suspended (or disqualified) by the notice. Alternatively, you can seek that the period of the suspension (or disqualification) be reduced. 

>> Magistrates Court Form - Application for Review of Licence Disqualification or Suspension

Unless arrested, you will normally be reported and later served with a summons to appear in a Magistrates Court. The time taken to receive a summons can vary significantly.

Drink driving offences can be disputed on several grounds. If you dispute the offence it may be possible resolve the matter by negotiating with the police prosecutor. If there is a valid reason, the prosecutor may agree to withdraw the charge. Alternatively, the matter may proceed to a contested trial. At a contested trial, a Magistrate will need to determine whether you are guilty or not guilty of the offence.  

Most commonly a drink driving case will resolve in Court by the person pleading guilty to the charged offence. A Magistrate will decide the appropriate penalty. Along with many factors, the Magistrate is to take into account the amount of time served under notice of suspension (or disqualification). It is important to understand that the Court can (and is often obliged to) impose a licence disqualification for longer than the period required by the initial notice of suspension (or disqualification). Before pleading guilty, it is important that you fully understand the possible penalties that can be imposed by the Court.

Whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty to a drink driving offence, legal representation can assist to ensure your best interests are advanced before the Court.

>> Section 47IAA Road Traffic Act - Power of police to impose immediate licence disqualification or suspension

>> Section 47IAB Road Traffic Act - Application to Court to have disqualification or suspension lifted

The information contained within this article is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. Craig Fabbian and Fabbian Lawyers are not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information.