New Drink Driving Laws

From 20 May 2019, a streamlined process that delivers swift penalties will apply to NSW drivers who commit a first-time, lower-range drink-driving offence.

Drivers in New South Wales who commit a lower-range drink-driving offence for the first time will have their licence suspended immediately, effective for 3 months, in addition to receiving a significant fine (which is currently $561).

Similar changes are also being implemented in relation to first-time offences involving drugs and driving.

Drink driving is a serous offence and is reported to be a factor in roughly one in 7 crashes in NSW.

Police breath tests

Police conduct about 5 million breath tests each year in NSW. In NSW, police have the power to:

  • stop drivers at random to test for alcohol
  • arrest drivers who test over the legal limit
  • require a driver to take a sobriety test in certain circumstances
  • breath test any driver or supervising driver involved in a crash

It is an offence to refuse to take a breath test.

It is illegal for you to drink alcohol while you are driving, even if your blood alcohol concentration stays below your legal limit.

What is the legal limit?

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NSW has 3 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits: zero, under 0.02 and under 0.05. The BAC limit that applies to you depends on the category of your licence and the type of vehicle you are driving.

Your BAC measures the amount of alcohol you have in your system in grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. A BAC of 0.05 means you have 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood.

It goes without saying, don’t drink and drive.


Craig Pryor is principal solicitor at McKillop Legal.

This information is general only and is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Please contact McKillop Legal to discuss your needs.

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