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Novice Range Drink Driving

The offence of novice range drink driving is committed by a novice driver or a driver with a learner’s licence who drives on a public road with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.00 to 0.019.

This is the lowest type of drink-driving offence provided in Roads Transport Act 2013. The importance of not being convicted of this offence should not be taken for granted. A criminal record is something that could haunt a person for his entire life.

A criminal record may pose serious problems to employment and future overseas travel. Drink-driving is a serious offence in NSW. It means the court that undertakes the sentencing will record the offence as a criminal conviction along with a fine and a disqualification of the person’s licence.

What is a Novice Driver

Under the Crimes Act 2013, a novice driver, in relation to a motor vehicle is a person who holds an applicable learner licence or applicable provisional licence for motor vehicles of a class that includes the motor vehicle. A person is also considered by the law as a novice driver if he is not authorized to drive the motor vehicle in NSW because his application for an applicable learner license or applicable provisional license of a class that includes the motor vehicle is refused or has ceased to hold an applicable learner license or applicable provisional license because it is cancelled or suspended or he is disqualified from holding driver license or his license has already expired.

Acts not allowed
A person should be vigilant in driving a motor vehicle if he is under the influence of alcohol. It is always a good practice to abstain or refrain from driving if a couple of drinks were taken. Thus, the law prohibits a person from driving if the blood alcohol concentration present in him is a novice range prescribed concentration alcohol (PCA).

The prohibited acts include occupying the driving seat of the motor vehicle and attempt to put it in motion. It should thus be noted that actually driving the motor vehicle is not the only way to commit the offence. A mere attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion while occupying the driving seat already constitutes the offence.

The Defence

If is a good defence for the defendant that the presence in his breath or blood of the novice range PCA was not caused by a consumption of any alcoholic beverage or consumption or use of any other substance for the purpose of consuming alcohol. However, it must be proved by the defendant to the satisfaction to the court by submitting evidence to support his defence.

Low, novice or special range PCA

  • Low range PCA: blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to less than 0.08
  • Novice range PCA: blood alcohol concentration more than zero for learner, P1 or P2 drivers
  • Special range PCA: blood alcohol concentration over 0.02 for special category driver



First offence

Second or subsequent offence

Maximum court- imposed fine



Maximum prison term



Minimum disqualification

3 months

6 months

Maximum disqualification

6 months


Automatic disqualification (disqualification period that applies in the absence of a specific court order)

6 months

12 months

Immediate licence suspension



Subject to an alcohol interlock order



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