Traffic and Criminal records are recorded separately in Queensland but traffic offences can still have very serious consequences such as imprisonment. It is important to deal with traffic offences properly even if they appear to be minor in nature as there can be cumulative effects leading to very serious outcomes.
Most minor traffic offences, such as speeding or failing to obey signs are not dealt with by Courts and are almost exclusively administered by Queensland Transport. The more serious offences such as drug or drink driving, disqualified driving and high-speed offences can often entail penalties such as fines, imprisonment, vehicle impoundments and lengthy periods of disqualification. Some offences may even carry mandatory penalties.
There are two main types of offences under this category.
The 0.05% limit in Queensland only applies to open licence holders and is often referred to as BAC charges. Provisional licence holders can be subject to limits as low as 0.00%. Levels above 0.15% (three times the usual limit) are generally regarded as driving under the influence or UIL and carry higher minimum penalties and disqualification periods.
There are also two distinct categories of drug driving.
Driving with the presence of a relevant drug
This is an offence in Queensland and is simply a question of whether particular substances are present in your saliva in any amount.
The substances which may form the basis of a charge are:
(a) 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA);
Driving under the influence of liquor or a drug
This charge can apply with both illicit and legal drugs (eg: prescription drugs) and the question of whether a person is ‘under the influence’ may depend on the circumstances and is an issue for determination by a Court.
It is an offence to refuse to provide a specimen of breath or saliva if requested to do so by an authorised officer. Such a refusal deems the person who refuses liable to the same punishment as if they were over 0.15% or under the influence of liquor or a drug.
A police officer may request a specimen of breath or saliva from a person if the officer reasonably suspects that the person was within the last three hours:
(a) driving a motor vehicle, tram or train on a road or elsewhere; or
(b) attempting to put in motion a motor vehicle, tram or train on a road or elsewhere; or
(c) in charge of a motor vehicle, tram or train on a road or elsewhere; or
(ca) otherwise operating, or interfering with the operation of, a motor vehicle dangerously on a road or elsewhere; or
(d) driving or in charge of or attempting to put in motion a vessel being used or apparently about to be used in navigation;
The person who provides the specimen will be deemed to have been in the same state while they were driving or in charge of the vehicle or vessel.
The laws relating to being under the influence may also apply to horses and non-motorised vehicles such as bicycles and skateboards.
The penalties for drink and drug driving range from fines and disqualification to imprisonment and can in some cases include impoundment or forfeiture of a vehicle.
If you go to Court for a drink or drug driving offence you will generally have a period of disqualification imposed in relation to your driver’s licence. This is different to a suspension where after the suspension period elapses your licence becomes valid again.
When a period of disqualification is imposed the terminology is along the lines of “You are disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence in Queensland for a period of…” Often you are required to hand over your driver’s licence there and then. At the end of the disqualification period you must apply for a new driver’s licence before you can drive in Queensland. If you are caught driving while disqualified, the minimum further disqualification period is two years. Periods of disqualification are generally cumulative, so a second period of disqualification does not commence until the first one is completed.
A person who operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously in any place commits a misdemeanour punishable by a maximum penalty of 200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment. If the person is adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, taking part in an unlawful race or unlawful speed trial, speeding excessively or has previously been convicted of the same offence, the person commits a crime where the maximum penalty is 400 penalty units or 5 years imprisonment. The maximum penalties continue to rise if the offence is repeated and imprisonment can become mandatory.
If the dangerous driving results in death or grievous bodily harm, depending on the circumstances, the penalty can be as much as 14 years imprisonment.
If, in the exercise of a power under an Act, a police officer using a police service motor vehicle gives the driver of another motor vehicle a direction to stop the motor vehicle the driver is driving. The driver of the motor vehicle must stop the motor vehicle as soon as reasonably practicable if a reasonable person would stop the motor vehicle in the circumstances. The Minimum penalty is 50 penalty units or 50 days imprisonment served wholly in a corrective services facility and the maximum penalty is 200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment. In addition, a Court must disqualify the driver for a minimum of two years.
The earlier you contact A.L.F. Lawyers, the more opportunity to defend or minimise the impact of your charges.