This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice.  The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of interpretation of the contents of this article.  It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem. 

What is High Range Drink Driving?

It is an offence in Queensland to drive a vehicle whilst your blood alcohol is above the legal limit.  High Range Drink Driving is commonly known as driving under the influence or DUI for short.  You are found to be high range drink driving when you are driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.15%. 

High range drink driving is the most serious offence of its kind and holds a maximum penalty of 9 months imprisonment for a first offence or a fine up to 28 penalty units, currently being $3,736.6‬0.

The penalties increase if it is a second or subsequent offence within a 5 year period.

When charged with high range drink driving your licence will be immediately suspended until the charge against you is determined in Court.

You are not eligible to make an application for a restricted work licence.  At the conclusion of your court disqualification you will have to have an alcohol interlock device installed in your car if you want to get your drivers licence back from Queensland Transport.  

Maximum Penalty for High Range Drink Driving

High range drink driving is the most serious offence of its kind and hold a maximum penalty of 9 months imprisonment for a first offence or a fine of $3,080.00

Any second, or subsequent offences within a period of 5 years carries a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment or a fine of 60 penalty units.

For third and any subsequent offences within a period of 5 years of the first offence the law requires the Court to impose a sentence which includes imprisonment. This does not necessarily mean the individual is required to serve the full sentence.

Disqualification from Driving for High Range Drink Driving 

Upon convicting a person of high range drink driving a court is required to disqualify that them from holding or obtaining a Queensland drivers licence for a minimum of 6 months for a first offence, a minimum of 1 year for a second, and a minimum of 2 years for any subsequent, offences. A court is empowered to disqualify a person absolutely (meaning they can never hold or apply for another Queensland driver’s licence) even for a first high range drink driving offence (though in practice this is rare). If more than one period of disqualification is imposed (for example for repeat offences), they must be served cumulatively (that is, each period of disqualification does not commence until the previous one has expired).

Upon convicting a person of high range drink driving the Court is required to have an Alcohol Ignition Interlock device fitted to their nominated vehicle for a period of 12 months once they receive their licence back. 

Penalties for High Range Drink Driving

In Queensland, if a person is convicted of Drink Driving – High Range, then the court could impose one of the following penalties:

  • Jail (suspended, parole or actual time);
  • Intensive Corrections Order;
  • Probation;
  • Community Service Order;
  • Fines.

The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.

Possible Defences for High Range Drink Driving  

There are a number of defences available to charges at law.  Not every defence is available to every charge.  You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for this charge.  Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are;

  • Necessity;
  • Mistake of Fact;
  • Public Safety;
  • Self Defence or defence of another person;
  • Intoxication;
  • Provocation;
  • Accident;
  • Duress;
  • Compulsion;
  • Insanity;
  • Automatism

Which Court will your drink driving matter be heard in?

The charge Drink Driving – High Range will be heard in the Magistrates Court in Queensland.  The charge will be heard and determined by a Magistrate alone whether you plead guilty or not guilty.  There is no jury in the Magistrates Court.   You can possibly reduce your sentence by completing an online traffic safety course like the Rate Program.