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Guideline judgement for PCA

What is the guideline judgement

In 2004, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal published a guideline judgement in relation to high range PCA offences. Although this case acts as a guideline for courts to follow when sentencing on high range PCA offences, there are many parts relevant to other drink driving charges too.

Section 10 for high range PCA

The court held that a section 10 will rarely be appropriate in an ‘ordinary high range PCA offence’. Section 10 has now been replaced with by non-conviction community release orders however the principles remain the same. The court also defined an ordinary case as being where:

  • The defendant was detected by RBT and not their manner of driving
  • They are of good character
  • They have nil or a minor traffic record
  • Their licence was suspended on the spot
  • There was an early plea of guilty
  • There is little or no risk of re-offending
  • They would be significantly inconvenienced by the loss of their licence

​Automatic periods of disqualification

The court also stated that automatic periods of disqualification will be appropriate unless there was a good reason to reduce it. Such good reasons include things like:

  • The nature of the defendants employment
  • The availability of other viable transport
  • If there is a need for a licence to care for someone

​Moral culpability in PCA matters

Where the moral culpability in high range PCA charges is increased, the court said that a section 9 bond (good behaviour bond) would rarely be appropriate. Where there is a high moral culpability in a high range PCA charge and there are prior PCA convictions, then imprisonment would generally be appropriate. Factors that increase the moral culpability in high range PCA matters include:

  • How far above 0.15 the reading was
  • The manner of driving
  • If there was a collision
  • The length of the journey
  • If others, for example passengers, were put at risk

What does all this mean for you

If you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Marsh Blom Lawyers offer a free 30 minute consultation. We can advise you what the likely penalty will be for your matter.

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