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The difference between PCA and DUI offences

What’s the difference between a DUI and a PCA offence?

The key difference is how the reading is obtained. DUI is normally as a result of police observations or a blood test, and PCA is as result of a test on a breath analysis device. DUI and PCA are both offences that relate to driving while affected by drugs or alcohol. Both are serious offences that can result in gaol time, large fines and loss of licence. Marsh Blom Lawyers can get you the best possible result at court.

PCA Offences

PCA stands for ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ and refers to the amount of alcohol detected in your system by a machine known as a BAS machine. These machines are usually located at the police station or sometimes in mobile police stations on the side of the road at large RBT operations.

​Prior to being tested on a BAS machine you are tested on the side of the road by talking or counting into a handheld alcolizer. If alcohol is detected then the police attach a tube to the alcolizer and request you to blow into it. This secondary test provides a rough reading of your blood alcohol content. If your reading is over the legal limit you will usually be arrested and taken to the nearest BAS machine where a more accurate reading will be obtained. Depending on the reading obtained you could be charged with:

  • Novice Range PCA
  • Special Range PCA
  • Low Range PCA
  • Mid Range PCA
  • High Range PCA

It’s important to note that police cannot test you if you are at your home, and the BAS test needs to be done within two hours of you driving a motor vehicle.

DUI Offences

DUI stands for ‘drive under the influence’. It usually arises as a result of a blood test or following a sobriety test and observations in circumstances where police cannot use the BAS machine to test you.

​The most common circumstance leading to a DUI charge is when a driver is in an accident and they are taken to hospital for treatment. Medical staff are required to take a blood test from all motor vehicle accident patients. This sample is sent for analysis and if it returns a reading for prohibited drugs you may be charged with DUI.

​Alternatively, if two hours have lapsed since you drove and the police cannot use the BAS machine to test you then they may conduct a sobriety assessment. Based on their observations of this assessment they can charge you with DUI even though no scientific reading has been obtained.

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