Drink Driving: Serious Consequences (SA)


What is meant by ‘drink driving’?

There are three distinct offences in South Australia which fall into the category of ‘drink driving’. These are:

  • Driving Under the Influence;
  • Driving with a Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol; and
  • Refusing or Failing to Comply with a Breath Test.

Driving Under the Influence does not require the police to prove a specific reading (i.e. you can be convicted of this offence if you blow under 0.05). Police will often rely on their or other people’s observations about the driving behaviour, which can show that you were so under the effect of an intoxicating substance that you were unable to exercise effective control of the vehicle.

Driving with a Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol is the most common drink driving offence. This is if you are caught driving above the legal limit (0.05 for full licensed drivers). The blood alcohol concentration at the time of driving will determine the penalty range which you may be facing. There are many very technical requirements that the police must adhere to when charging a person with this offence, and their failure to do so may render the test invalid. You should seek legal advice to examine if the police have complied with these requirements.

Refusing or Failing to Comply with a Breath Test is an offence which is committed when the person refuses to give the police a sample of their breath, or behaves in a way in which a reading is unable to be obtained. This is a very serious offence as refusing or failing to comply makes a person liable to the highest penalties available. Again, there are a number of technicalities the police must adhere to, or the charge may not be made out.

Should I get a blood test?

Yes. In most cases a blood test is the only way to contradict the reading taken by the breath analysis instrument. The police are required to offer you a blood test kit, and you should always accept it and have your blood promptly tested. It often will not make a difference to the reading taken by the breath analysis instrument, but there have been numerous cases where instruments have been shown to be inaccurate.

I have been caught drink driving. What should I do?

Drink driving has serious consequences for most people, often the biggest of which is the loss of their licence for a substantial period of time, which can impact work, family and your social life. This is why it is essential to get proper legal advice as early as possible about your drink driving offence.

Please contact Culshaw Miller Criminal Lawyers to make an appointment to discuss your legal options.