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Melbourne Drink Driving Defence Lawyer free expert legal advice

Frequently Asked Questions
in Drink Driving Cases


If I plead guilty, can the court allow me to keep my licence?
No. Legislation imposes mandatory licence cancellation for all drink driving offenders.

I got caught drink driving. Can you save my licence?
Most of my clients are facing drink driving related charges, and many of them keep their licence.  To find out if it is realistic to save your licence you will need to see me after you have your court papers.

My drink driving infringement notice says I will lose my licence for 13 months. What should I do if I want to save my licence?
The only way to avoid licence cancellation is to defend the case successfully in court. You do this by objecting to the infringement notice and then making an appointment to see me once you have your court papers.  See also: Conferences.

Is my drink driving case winnable?
Every case has a chance of winning. Many cases are easy to win while others are far more difficult. Much depends on what the prosecution evidence is in the court proceeding.

Can the Magistrate take into account my personal circumstances, including my excellent driving history, to reduce the mandatory minimum licence loss period?
That's absolutely impossible. It is a mandatory minimum licence loss period, not a discretionary licence loss period.  See the Penalties page.

But what if I offer to pay a $6,000 fine, do 500 hours of community work, enter into a good behaviour bond for 10 years plus have an interlock installed for 3 years?
Making up your own penalties is not an option.

Can I get a drive-to-work licence or daytime hours licence?
No. See the Work Licences page.

Should I object to my infringement notice to take the matter to court?
If you need to save your licence from cancellation, you must object to the infringement notice and take it to court. Read the Fines page.

Will I lose my licence for a longer period if I take the matter to court?
In nearly all cases the licence loss period will not get worse if you take it to court..

What are my chances of winning in court? what_are_my_chances_of_winning
It depends on the state of the paperwork and the police evidence. It usually does not depend on the your version of events, and it almost never depends on what you drank. If you had an accident, or had a blood sample taken, or you refused to cooperate with the police then your chance of winning will actually improve. No lawyer who knows how to win a drink driving case can possibly answer this question without seeing your charge and summons and the police statements.  See the legal advice page.

Will having prior convictions for drink driving make it harder to win my case?
No. It is always totally irrelevant what your driving history is.

Will having a very high reading make it harder to win my case?
No, the magnitude of your reading is usually irrelevant. Statistically, people with higher  readings have a better chance of being acquitted because it is much less likely they were breath tested at a booze bus.

I believe my breath test result was incorrect. What can I do to challenge the reading?
You need to ask for a blood test immediately after you receive your breath test result. You will find it very difficult to challenge the reading unless you asked for a blood test. Don't dismay though, I usually win drink driving cases without needing to challenge the reading.

I had only two light beers before driving and am sure I was under 0.05%. Can I use this evidence in my defence?
Not unless your blood test result backs you up on that.

I had 4 drinks at home after I finished driving. Can I use this to reduce my reading?
Generally not. The court can not take into account any evidence about what you drank after you finished driving unless you have witnesses who can prove you were stone sober when you were driving.

I think the breath test result came from my mouth-wash. Is this a good defence?
No. It does not matter what caused the alcohol to be in your breath.

My reading was high because I did not eat any food all day. Will this help?
No. Your reading was high because you drank too much alcohol. The state of your digestion or health or drug use has nothing to do with the prosecution of the charge nor with any defence (unless you are so sick you can not provide a sample of breath).

My breath alcohol limit is 0.05%, so can I drink a stubbie traveller on the way home?
Since December 2011 it is illegal for a driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle to consume alcohol. The penalty is a moderate on-the-spot fine with no licence loss or demerit points.

Do I need to prove I was under 0.05% to win my case?
No. That is the last thing you should worry about. The laws in Victoria make it almost impossible for anyone to win a drink driving case by adducing evidence that they were under 0.05% at the time of driving. Not to worry though, there are many other ways to win a drink driving case.

After I lodge an objection to an infringement notice, what happens next?
Within about 2 or 3 months the police will serve a charge and summons on you which sets an initial court date. It can sometimes take up to 12 months to get court papers.

How long after I get the court papers will the case be heard?
If you want to fight the case, it will not be heard for about 4 to 12 months after the initial court date. If you want to plead guilty, it can be determined any time you wish.

Which court will the case be heard in?
The case will be heard in the Magistrates Court closest to where the offence occurred. It is not possible to change courts if you are pleading not guilty.

When should I have a conference with you to get the case started?
Generally, you should seek advice as soon as you get the court papers or as soon as your licence is suspended. If you are particularly desperate and want everything checked no matter what the cost, then you might also seek legal advice before you lodge a notice of objection to an infringement notice.

What does it cost to fight a drink driving case?
Roughly $6,000.00 (plus or minus $1,000) depending on what is involved. If the case does not proceed all the way to a final hearing it usually costs less. If you win, the police often pay those costs. If you decide not to fight the case, the cost will be much less.

What will happen to my licence if I am found guilty?
Generally your licence is cancelled and you will be disqualified from driving for a lengthy period depending on the severity of your offending. See the Penalties page.

I am happy to plead guilty. Do I need a lawyer?
If it is a simple booze bus offence you probably won't need a lawyer to help you plead guilty, provided you had a licence and you have no more than 1 prior drink driving offence.  If you use a lawyer, you are far less likely to be disappointed with the outcome or want to lodge an appeal. Legal representation can help keep your licence disqualification period and fines low, and ensure you avoid any term of imprisonment or community work order. I represent people who wish to plead guilty or not guilty. 

What do you charge to represent me on a plea of guilty to a drink driving charge?
The fee for an appearance at court is usually between $900 and $1,800 depending on the circumstances, especially the priors. Some drink drivers have been charged with other offences, such as driving whilst suspended, careless driving or dangerous driving, and this can make the case more complicated and more expensive. See: Pleading Guilty

Is it difficult to get my licence back at the end of the disqualification period?
Depends on the severity of your offending, but you should assume it is going to be a large pain in the neck to get relicenced. See the Relicencing page.

Will I need to have an Interlock if I am relicenced?
Most likely yes. See the Interlock page.

How do you win a drink driving case?
There are dozens of ways of winning traffic cases. See the cases page for examples. The best thing you can do is see an experienced defence lawyer. Any lawyer who tells you that you can not win your case is merely confessing they have no idea how to win a traffic case. Find a better lawyer.

I am sure I don't have any defence. Aren't I wasting my time?
Unless you are an experienced criminal trial lawyer (or perhaps a police prosecutor), you will not recognise a defence even if it is staring you in the face. In any event, it is not necessary to have a defence to be acquitted of criminal charges - you are innocent until proven guilty. The outcome often depends on what the police say in court. Read this case example and this one. See also the Legal Advice page. There are regularly defendants who can not see a defence yet still contest their case and win. They do not feel they have wasted their time. You need to decide if you want to invest your time and money in taking the chance. People who are prepared to risk their life and licence by driving after drinking should have no fear in taking the risk of defending their case in court.

What should I say to the court in my defence?
Preferably nothing at all. In most criminal cases the defendant does not give evidence so you can stop wondering what you might have to say in court.

I paid my drink driving fine and lost my licence for 14 months. I am about to have a baby so I need my licence back desperately. Can I ask the court to reduce the time of disqualification?
No. If you did not object to the fine within 28 days your case is closed.

I have been waiting 3 months for the police to send me a charge and summons. Should I call them and ask them where my papers are?
No. Just wait. If you still haven't got anything after 12 months then seek legal advice.

Can I apply for Legal Aid?
You can apply but it is unlikely to be granted unless you are at risk of imprisonment and you satisfy their means test and other conditions (e.g. intend to plead guilty). Occasionally I refer clients to Legal Aid and I might act for them if they are granted aid. Legal Aid does not often fund traffic law matters, especially defended traffic law matters. Legal Aid does not seem to have sufficient funding to allocate to defending drink driving cases. Legal Aid in-house lawyers are not renown for defending traffic cases. Some people may have an insurance policy that covers them for some legal expenses in traffic matters. RACV's Total Care cover pays about $400.00 for legal expenses in traffic prosecutions.

The police have asked me to go to the police station for an interview. What should I do?
Don't go, or don't undergo an interview, unless your lawyer tells you to do so.

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Related Pages:

Breath Tests
Court Process
Relicencing applications
Interlock conditions
Immediate Licence Suspensions

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Sean Hardy is a drink driving lawyer practicing exclusively in traffic law who specialises in defending and winning drink driving charges in court.

Drink driving defence barrister.  Drink driving cases. Drink driving offence. Drink driving law victoria. Melbourne Drink driving solicitor




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