In this post, we discuss five of the most common drink-driving myths in Queensland and explain why they are exactly that – myths. As a law firm that focus soleoy on traffic law, we frequently represent people who believed that these myths would keep them safe from drink-driving charges. Sadly, part of our job is to explain why this is not the case.
We write this in the hope that you will not be the next person caught by these fables.
Myth #1 – You Cannot be Charged with Drink-Driving in Your Driveway
There are lots of reasons why this myth is wrong. Some of these reasons are discussed below but apply equally to this myth. However, most importantly, the legislation does not restrict where an alcohol- or drug-related offence can occur. In other words, you can commit these offences anywhere. You only need to be:
And with prohibited amounts of alcohol in your system, or an illegal drug in your system.
We have encountered cases where people have been charged with drink- or drug-driving offences where their car was:
In short, there is no where you can legally drink and drive. If you are found driving or in charge of a car anywhere in Queensland, you can (and probably will) be charged with an offence.
What makes this myth persist is that other States in Australia have restrictions on police administering breath tests on people who are in their home. In New South Wales, this is known as the “home safe” rule. You must be careful when doing Google searches of drink-driving offences that the information you find relates only to Queensland, and not other jurisdictions. Google Lawyer should be approached with the same caution as Google Doctor.
It is important to keep in mind that drink-driving laws in Australia are not uniform across the various States and territories. It is crucial that you are getting information relating only to Queensland law, if you are planning to drive in Queensland.
Myth #2 – One Standard Drink per Hour will Keep You under 0.05 BAC
A long time ago, this myth was extensively advertised on television, on the radio, printed on posters, and printed on drinks coasters. Unfortunately, this advertising campaign was so successful that many, many people still think that this is a reliable rule of thumb to gauge whether it is safe to drive after drinking alcohol. Even more unfortunately, there are a number of mobile phone apps that you can download which record and count your drinks for you.
This myth is particularly seductive because it seems to have some basis in science. Blood-alcohol concentrations are the measure of the amount of alcohol that has been absorbed by your body, minus the alcohol that your body has metabolised, thus removing it from your system. The basis of this myth is that, if you keep the amount of alcohol you are putting in your system equal to (or less than) the amount of alcohol that your body processes, your blood-alcohol concentration should remain equal. While it is true that human bodies metabolise alcohol at a reasonably ascertainable rate, there are too many variables that are not taken into account by crude “drink counting” alone.
For example, the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream is affected by how much you have eaten prior to, and at the time of, drinking. It is also affected by the types of food you have eaten. Fatty foods, or carbohydrates will slow the rate of absorption compared to non-fatty foods. This is important because you merely delay when your blood-alcohol peaks. This is dangerous because your blood-alcohol could peak when you are driving; especially if you wait a considerable time after your last drink before driving.
Also, your metabolism is affected by many other variables, such as your age and your genetics. Smaller people are affected by alcohol more than their larger counterparts. Women process alcohol slower than men (for various, biological reasons). People with certain medical conditions (especially liver diseases) will metabolise alcohol slower than a healthy person. Lastly, experienced drinkers are less susceptible to the affects of alcohol than naïve drinkers, making them more at risk of judging themselves “safe” to drive.
Lastly, drinks are counted by reference to a “standard” drink. In Australia, a standard drink is one that contains 10 grams of alcohol. Many people try counting drinks where they are drinking at home, or at a friend’s home, where drinks are estimated, rather than measured. Also, heavy beers and premix spirits served in single-serve bottles or cans are almost always more than one standard drink.
None of these factors are accounted for by the drink-counting technique.
In short, counting your drinks is now considered a totally unreliable way to keep yourself under the legal alcohol limit for driving. You are unlikely to see this technique being advertised anymore. The only safe way to drive is to avoid alcohol completely if you know that you are going to drive. In other words, “if you’re going to drive, don’t drink. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive”.
Myth #3 – You can “Sleep it Off” in Your Car
As we have already discussed above, drink-driving offences are not limited to public roads. You can commit them anywhere that you can get a car. Furthermore, as we discussed, you do not need to be driving a car to commit an alcohol-related offence. You can also be charged with “attempting to put in motion” or “in charge” of a car while over the legal alcohol limit.
If the police find you sleeping in your car while over the legal alcohol limit, you will probably be charged with being “in charge” of the car while over the relevant limit. Being “in charge” of a motor vehicle has no precise definition in the legislation; however, there is case law which does provide such a definition.
In simple terms, being “in charge” has the underlying idea of being “responsible”. In Queensland, it seems that the courts consider someone must be responsible for cars parked on public roads. Therefore, you are in charge of your car until you give responsibility of your car to someone else. This notion is applied fairly broadly; for example, you can still be “in charge” of your car, even if it has been in an accident. Nevertheless, the legislation does provide for certain, very limited, circumstances where you will not be convicted of an offence even though you were found to be “in charge” of your car and were over the legal limit.
In short, if you plan to drink, you are best making other arrangements to get home and avoid going near your car altogether. An even better plan is to leave your car at home entirely if you plan to go drinking. How many times do “a few quite ones” turn into “a big night out”? These are the times when it is tempting to sleep it off in the car and drive home in the morning.
Myth #4 – You are Safe to Drive the Next Day
Speaking of driving the next morning, a common trap many of our clients fall into is driving the morning following a night of drinking, believing that they no longer have alcohol in their system. Regrettably, and depending on how much alcohol you drank the night before, this may not be the case.
As previously discussed, blood-alcohol concentration is the difference between the amount of alcohol you put in your system and how much alcohol your body processed out. If you drink alcohol at a faster rate than your body can process, your blood-alcohol will increase. Once you stop drinking, your blood-alcohol concentration will fall at a consistent rate. There is no other way to reduce your blood-alcohol concentration. Cold showers, drinking black coffee, drinking water, eating fatty foods, taking Berocca, sleeping, or throwing up, will not reduce your blood-alcohol concentration.
It follows then that, if you have a lot to drink, your body may not have processed all the alcohol out of your system by the time you wake up in the morning. What makes this particularly dangerous is that the effects of alcohol can be mistaken as a hangover.
It should be said that being mistaken about whether you are over the legal limit for driving is not a defence to a drink-driving charge.
Myth #5 – You Know a Trick to Mask Your BAC / Cheat a Breath-Test / Avoid the Police
No. You don’t.
In summary, there is a lot of misinformation about alcohol-related traffic offences. It is important that you have correct information so that you can make safe decisions about alcohol and driving. Getting it wrong can have serious consequences for you, your licence, your loved ones, and everyone around you.
How do I get more help or engage you to act for me?
We have been operating since 2010 and undertaken 1000’s of drink driving charges throughout South East Queensland.
If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information about drink driving. You won’t be chased or hounded to engage us. Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, a drink driving charge no matter the reading will have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business.
Need more information?
We have a range of articles on drink driving on our blog. Some of the most recent have included:
This article is rewritten subject to our disclaimer that can be read by clicking here