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Case Study - High Range Drink Driving and Disqualified Driving

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We recently appeared in the Sandgate Court for a client facing the real prospects of a prison sentence. The client had been charged with unlicensed driving due to a previous court ordered disqualification and high range drink driving or driving UIL (also sometimes referred to as a DUI).

 

Making the situation much worse for the client is that he had, in the words of the Magistrate, a terrible history that included eight previous disqualified driving charges and seven previous drink driving (UIL) charges. In the previous five years there were two high range drink driving charges alone. As a result of the legislation where a person has three high range drink driving charges within five years, a prison sentence must form part of the penalty imposed by the Magistrate. This doesn't mean that a person will necessarily go to jail, but it means a jail sentence will be imposed and the question will then become whether or not they should get an immediate parole release date.

 

In our client's circumstance, we had to fight very hard to try and keep him out of jail. Specifically, we were seeking that the court impose a jail sentence for the drink driving charge with an immediate parole release meaning the client would be released from the court that day with a jail sentence hanging over their head should they breach their parole.

 

We also had to deal the disqualified driving charge and in that circumstance we sought a probation order so that in essence, the client would be on a parole and a probation order at the same time.

 

Ultimately, we were able to convince the Magistrate to do this given that the client clearly had a long standing alcohol abuse issues, even though he had never sought treatment in the past. One of the things that was the most concerning for the Magistrate was that he had spent time in jail for the exact same charges two years ago. Therefore, our job was made particularly difficult as we could not argue that a jail sentence with actual imprisonment was not an appropriate sentence because that had previously been imposed by an earlier court for the exact same charges.

 

The client did not help himself in that he failed to obtain the type of references that we had suggested that he obtain and had not done any of the driving courses that we had suggested. We did have the client assessed by the Probation and Parole Officer at Sandgate Court and ultimately they informed the court that there were courses and structures that could be put in place to try and minimise the likelihood that the client would reoffend. The Magistrate said that she was faced with a difficult task in that deterrence is the number one issue for the court. That is deterrence specifically of our client from committing these offences again and deterrence of anyone else committing this offence. If a too light a sentence is imposed then deterrence of our client may not be effective and deterrence of the general public committing the same type of offences would also be diminished.

 

Ultimately, we were able to convince the Magistrate not to send our client to jail. But it was perhaps the closest you can come to a potential prison sentence without actually being sent to jail. Our client will now be subject to quite close and strict supervision by Probation and Parole to try and ensure that he does offend again.  If he does offend in the next year he could be sent to prison for 28 days for breaching his parole order with further punishment likely.

 

There are some important lessons to learn from this type of offending and that is, it is important for a person to ensure that they have done everything prior to the court case possible to try and convince the Magistrate that they deserve a further chance by not being sent to jail. The other lesson to be learned is that disqualified driving especially where it combined with a drink driving charge (UIL) will be treated seriously by the Courts and there is a high possibly of receiving actual prison time for these types of offences, especially where like our client, the traffic history is poor.

 

If you need any information on drink driving offences or disqualified driving offences please contact us on 1300 952 255.  We appear in all courts in South East Queensland from Southport to Gympie.  

 

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