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.
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.
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.
The maximum penalty that may be imposed upon the offender is 10 penalty units (in the case of a first offence) or 20 penalty units (in the case of a second or subsequent offence).
This means that the court is given the discretion to impose a penalty of either a fine or imprisonment or in the exercise of the sound judgment of the court, both penalties of fine and imprisonment may be imposed at the same time. The factors that the court will consider in the determination of the penalty are the following:
Anyone who is required to adhere to a zero alcohol limit when driving can be subject to novice range PCA charge. Overall, this charge is normally applicable to people who hold a special licence like a learner’s licence, a P1 licence or a P2 licence. A person who is apprehended and is not in possession of a valid licence, which includes a disqualified and suspended driver, may be charged in the same way.
Novice range PCA is serious due to the zero limits, which applies to drivers. Once a criminal conviction has been recorded then potential employers will find out, as a background check is part of the recruitment process. This means that a convicted person may lose a job opportunity.
A criminal conviction remains on the record for at least 10 years, so for a young person, it could be a devastating career blow. It would be no use trying to work overseas, as part of the working visa process is a background check.