You might be wondering, what is a DUI and how is it different to a PCA offence?
DUI is also known as driving under the influence of any alcohol or other drug. It is a charge that may be brought where there was no valid breath test to confirm a particular blood alcohol concentration.
This is different to PCA offences where a breath test has occurred which suggests a particular blood alcohol concentration, such as low, mid or high range.
This means that a policeman who charges a person with DUI may be taking into account factors other than the alcohol concentration, such as the erratic driving, slurred speech, bleary eyes, a smell of liquor on the person’s breath, admissions about drinking or anything else suggestive of being affected by alcohol.
If you have been charged with DUI, the prosecution needs to prove that not only were you driving (or attempting to drive or were supervising a learner) but also that one of the following occurred:
- You were under the influence of a drug (including alcohol) described in your court attendance notice; or
- You were under the influence of a combination of any one or more drugs that were described in the court attendance notice
Being charged with a traffic offence like DUI can be stressful, however having the right team of lawyers on your side will ensure that the whole matter is put behind you as quickly as possible and with minimal damage so you can move on with your life.
A good DUI lawyer in Sydney will be able to advise you on how to proceed with all stages of your case, from choosing whether or not to plead guilty or not, right up to representation in court.
Being convicted of a DUI can be costly, not just in fines but it may cost you your licence, a criminal conviction and even in extreme circumstances, time in jail.
The penalties increase if this is a second or subsequent offence.
Fortunately, with the right legal advice and representation you can minimise the negative consequences and may even be able to get a case dropped or thrown out of court.
What should I look for in a DUI lawyer in Sydney?
It will nearly always be better to go for a specialist lawyer, no matter what your legal concern is.
If you have a traffic matter, you will want the person dealing with it to be an expert in traffic matters, not someone who has a bit of experience in family law, conveyancing as well as a few traffic cases.
A good, specialist traffic lawyer will have dealt with many cases similar to your’s and will be able to know the best way to deal with your case.
They will be able to advise you of the likely penalties you face if you choose to plead guilty.
Make sure that your traffic lawyer is experienced, and has positive reviews from previous clients.
Doing your own research or even asking your friends and family is often a good place to start.
What if I am pleading not guilty?
A good traffic lawyer will be able to fight the charges and know how best to challenge police evidence if you want to plead not guilty.
If the case is weak, they will be able to write to police requesting that the charge should be dropped and warning that an application for your legal costs will be made against them if they refuse to drop your charge and it is later thrown out of court.
Since there was no breath test giving a definitive percentage of alcohol in your blood, police will have to use other evidence in order to prove the charge; and they will have to prove it beyond any reasonable doubt.
There are often ways that a good lawyer can fight the police version of events, such as pointing out inconsistencies in the evidence, or a lack of sufficient credible evidence, or obtaining statements from those who were with you before driving (or even passengers when driving).
If the charge is withdrawn, there will be no court hearing, no conviction, no loss of licence and no fine.
You will be free to get on with your life.
What if I am pleading guilty?
Even if you want to plead guilty, you don’t need to turn up to court unrepresented and resigned to your fate.
You should not feel that you will heavily punished, as an experienced DUI lawyer will fight to get you the best possible outcome – they may even be able to convince the magistrate not to record a conviction against you at all.
Many people who think that they have no hope of ‘getting off’ if they plead guilty don’t realise that a magistrate actually has a fair amount of discretion when dealing with their cases.
They therefore don’t realise that their case could end in one of several ways, including getting a ‘section 10 dismissal or conditional release order’ and avoiding a conviction and licence disqualification.
If you are charged with DUI, your best bet may be to call an experienced traffic lawyer for a free first appointment to discuss your case and the best way forward.