This is an interesting case which was heard at Grafton recently, and how easily you could commit an offence which carries 18 months of prison.
The scenario is this. You are at a party, you have driven your car there and proceed to have more drinks than you were planning to, and you make the responsible decision to not drive your car home.
A friend, in his 30’s, who you associate with occasionally, offers to drive you and your car home. Fantastic idea you think. You pour yourself into the passenger seat, thinking what a fantastic night you have had.
On the way home, the driver is breath tested, and the police perform a licence check which reveals that the driver holds only a learners permit. Regardless of whether the actual driver has been drinking or not, the police now ask you to perform a breath test.
Being the holder of a licence, sitting beside a holder of a learners permit, requires you to have a limit below .05. Not only do you exceed .05, you register a level over 3 times that amount.
You could now be looking at up to 18 months in gaol and a lengthy disqualification from driving.
The law in this area is quite complex, with a lengthy discussion involving the “defence” of “honest and reasonable mistake of fact”. It is understandable that the police don’t want to allow everyone that breaks the law to rely on “mistake” and avoid penalty, but in the above scenario, you would think it to be a fair requirement, that when you are facing up to 3 years disqualification from driving and up to 18 months in prison you might have to be aware of the fact that you were breaking the law.
Another important piece of legislation is that when a person responsible for a vehicle allows another to control the vehicle, it is a requirement that you sight that person’s driver’s licence. Can you remember the last time that anyone, who borrowed a car, was asked to produce their licence to the owner? Well that’s a $2,200 fine for the owner if they don’t.
The result in the above matter was that the client managed to keep his licence, and escape any serious penalty.
Remember next time a driver borrows your car, it could be a $2,200 fine if you have not asked to see their licence. Otherwise, if you’re getting driven anywhere after you have been drinking, sit in the back seat, and avoid the possibility of going to prison for 18 months.
If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable.
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This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.