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PCA Offences

The most common drink driving offence in the ACT is driving with a prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA). That offence is described in section 19 of the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1977.

What is a PCA?

The prescribed concentration of alcohol is the blood alcohol content (BAC) at which a driver is prohibited from driving. A driver’s BAC is the amount of alcohol, measured in grams, in 100 mL of blood or 210 L of breath.

The ACT separates drivers into two categories: those who are “special drivers” and those who are not. For all drivers except “special drivers,” the PCA is 0.05. For special drivers, the PCA is any amount above zero.

What is a “special driver”?

Special drivers subject to the “any amount above zero” PCA include:

  • Unlicensed drivers
  • Drivers with suspended licences
  • A person who was disqualified from driving by any court
  • A driver who is subject to an alcohol interlock condition
  • Drivers transporting certain dangerous substances
  • Drivers of certain heavy vehicles
  • Drivers of public transportation

Certain driving instructors or driving supervisors even if they are not driving

A defence is available to special drivers who consume alcohol as part of a religious observation or as an ingredient in some other substance (such as cough medicine), provided that the driver’s BAC is less than 0.02.

What is a PCA offence?

It is an offence to drive in the ACT if all of the following are true:

  • The accused drove a motor vehicle
  • On a road or area related to the road
  • While having a PCA at the time of testing, provided that the test sample was taken within two hours of driving.

The offence also applies to driver trainers who were not driving.

What are the penalties?

In addition to the other penalties described below, the conviction of a PCA offence is punished with a driver licence disqualification. Depending upon the driver’s BAC, the disqualification ranges from 1 to 6 months for a first offence and from 3 months to 3 years for a repeat offence.

For a first offence with a BAC of less than 0.08, the maximum penalty is a fine and a driver licence disqualification.

For a first offence with a BAC of at least 0.08 but less than 0.15 or more, the maximum penalty is a fine plus imprisonment of not more than 6 months.

For a first offence with a BAC of at least 0.15, the maximum penalty is a fine plus imprisonment of not more than 9 months.

Higher fines can be imposed for a repeat offence. For a repeat offence with a BAC of at least 0.15, the maximum penalty is a fine plus imprisonment of not more than 12 months.

If you are facing possible punishment for a PCA offence, you should talk to a lawyer to learn whether you have a defence to the charge.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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