DUI & Drink Driving Lawyer Coolangatta

Information on how DUI and Drink Driving Charges are dealt with in Coolangatta Court

Drink Driving Lawyers Coolangatta


When it comes to drink driving offences in Coolangatta, it's crucial to understand the legal implications of that drink driving charge, how the Coolangatta court deals with that drink driving offence and perhaps most importantly what penalty the Coolangatta court will impose, can you get a work licence and how to get the lowest disqualification period.

Clarity Law, has since 2010, provided expert guidance and support for individuals charged with drink driving offences in Coolangatta. We aren’t a firm that does drink driving on the side or as a part of a lot of other types of law, drink driving and work licences are our main focus.

In this article, we will explore what is the drink driving charge, the importance of DUI and drink lawyers in Coolangatta, shedding light on their role and how they can assist those facing legal charges in Coolangatta Magistrates Court due to drink driving incidents.


What is drink driving?

Over 30 years ago all the state and territories in Australia agreed on a nationwide limit on the alcohol limit people can drive with, the famous .05.

In addition each state also limits some drivers to a zero alcohol limit.

In Queensland the zero alcohol limit can apply to:

  • Learner and provisional licence holders
  • Those involved in driving passengers in taxi and share rides
  • Anyone driving a vehicle of 4.5 tonnes
  • Bus drivers


Drink Driving Charges in Queensland

There are broadly 4 different drink driving charges in Queensland


BAC Range

Driving over no alcohol limit

0 - .049

Driving over the general alcohol limit

.049 - .099

Driving over the middle alcohol limit

.1 -. 149

DUI or high range drink driving

.15 +


Each charge will have different penalties that can be imposed and restrictions on the ability to get a work licence.


Immediate Suspension after a Drink Driving Charge

Those charged with driving with an alcohol limit under .1 (i.e. low range drink driving) will have an immediate 24 hour licence suspension applied.  Those charged with mid or high range drink driving will have their driver licence suspended until the court deals with the drink driving charge.

In certain circumstances, it is possible to apply for a special licence which will allow you to drive before your matter is finalised in court. This is called a section 79E order and is only available to people charged with drink driving who hold an open licence.  See our article on section 79E orders for more information.


Can the police pull you over for a random breath test?

The law states that a police officer may request a sample of breath or blood if “the officer has found such person, or suspects on reasonable grounds that such person, was during the last preceding three hours”:

  • driving a motor vehicle on a road or elsewhere;
  • attempting to put in motion a motor vehicle on a road or elsewhere;
  • in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or elsewhere; or
  • Involved in an incident that lead to injury or property damage


The key points are that a police officer must have a reasonable suspicious that someone was driving or attempting to drive or in charge of a motor vehicle in the last 3 hours. 

It also does not matter where the offence took place, it could be on the road, in someone’s driveway or the Coles supermarket car park at Coolangatta.


I wasn’t driving the vehicle but I was arrested for being in charge of a motor vehicle

You can be charged with drink driving being in charge of a vehicle if you had control of the motor vehicle for example if you were in the driver’s seat and had the keys near you even if you were not driving or had no intention of driving.  Often this occurs when people are in the car waiting to be picked up, in the car wanting to find something or just sleeping.

If you were in the front compartment of the vehicle then the law reduces the defences you might have to the charge.

In the past we have had clients charged with drink driving while being in charge of a motor vehicle where;

  • They were listening to music in their car as they had an argument with their partner
  • They had called an uber and were charging their phone waiting to be picked up
  • They fell asleep in the front seat of the car in the car park
  • They were waiting in the car for the rain to stop and then were going to walk home



What options do I have?

Broadly you will have 3 different options on your first court date. 

You can:

  • Plead guilty
  • Plead not guilty
  • Adjourn for legal advice


Plead guilty

If you plead guilty and are not applying for a work licence then your matter will likely proceed to be dealt with immediately in Coolangatta Magistrates Court generally deals with drink driving charge on Mondays.

If you are seeking a work licence then the court would adjourn the matter so that all the material you will rely on can be filed with the court.   Coolangatta Magistrates Court generally deals with work licence applications charge on Fridays.


Plead not guilty

If you believe you are not guilty of the charge then you can request a trial before a Magistrate.  If you are looking at pleading not guilty its essential to get legal advice.  You can also check out our article on beating a drink driving charge.


Adjourn for legal advice

The court will always allow someone to adjourn their matter to get legal advice on their first court date.




In Queensland unlike other states the court must impose a disqualification period for every drink driving charge.  This means that no matter the circumstances of a person their drivers licence will be disqualified for a period of time.


How does the Coolangatta court work out a penalty?

The Coolangatta court will generally look at the following factors in setting the penalty

  • Your BAC
  • Whether you have prior drink driving offences
  • The extent of your traffic and criminal history
  • Your age
  • Your current work arrangements
  • Your family situation
  • How the disqualification will affect your work and family commitments
  • Any character references you provide
  • How early you pleaded guilty
  • Your participation in any courses (such as the Queensland Traffic Offenders Program)
  • How cooperative you were with police
  • Your financial circumstances
  • How the recording of a conviction might impact your future


What penalties might be imposed

The table below sets out the disqualification ranges and maximum fine the court can impose for a first offence.


Disqualification period

Maximum fine

Over the no alcohol limit

3-9 months


Over the general alcohol limit

1-9 months


Over the middle alcohol limit

3-12 months


Over the high alcohol limit

Minimum 6 months




How do I reduce the penalty?

We strongly suggest you attend some form of driving course before your court date. We recommend the Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (“QTOP”). This course can be done online or in person. All the details including how to enrol are on their website at www.qtop.com.au .

The program is designed to increase the understanding of participants of their social commitments in general and traffic laws in particular. When your matter is finalised in court a magistrate may take into account any changes of attitude exhibited by you while participating in the program.

In additional character references can be useful to understand a persona background.

The best way to reduce the penalty is obviously to engage a drink driving lawyer that appears regularly in the Coolangatta court and knows the very best things to say and what not to say to the Coolangatta magistrate to get the lowest fine and disqualification period.


Recording a Conviction

Drink driving is a summary offence which under Queensland law is a criminal offence but not a crime therefore a conviction, if recorded, would go on your traffic history but not on your criminal history.  

You can ask the Coolangatta court not to record a conviction if if will have an impact on your ability to earn an income or will have a serious social impact.

See our article on the recording a conviction for a drink driving charge.


If I cannot drive during my disqualification period I will lose my job

As you must get a disqualification in Queensland the only option to keep driving would be to make an application for a work licence.

It is only possible for you to apply for a work licence if:

  • you held an open licence at the time of the offence
  • are charged with low or mid-range drink driving and
  • had no suspensions of your licence in the last 5 years

A work licence must be applied for at the time you appear in the court to plead guilty, it cannot be done afterwards. 

You cannot apply for a work licence if you are charged with high range drink driving (driving under the influence) or were subject to the no alcohol limit (i.e you we a provisional licence holder or driving a taxi or truck over 4.5 tonnes.

Please see our section on work licences for further information or check out the most comprehensive guide on the internet on how to apply for a work licence.

A work licence only allows you to drive for work purposes you cannot get a work licence or hardship licence to be able to drive for person reasons i.e. driving your children to school.  In Queensland a period of disqualification must be imposed and so if personal driving is critical all you can do is try and minimise the disqualification period as much as possible.

The court also has the option to double then period of disqualification they would have imposed if no work licence was applied for.  Well thought out submissions and arguments before the Coolangatta Magistrate can in our experience significantly reduce the length of your disqualification. 


The process in Coolangatta Court

Generally most drink driving charges heard in Coolangatta court will follow the following process.

  1. The Coolangatta court will generally start at 9:00am
  2. From just after 8:30am there will be a police prosecutor in the court room giving people their QP9 (what is a QP9 see our article here) and asking people if they are pleading guilty, not guilty or seeking an adjournment
  3. Once the court starts your name will be called at some point
  4. The court will then ask you if you are pleading guilty, not guilty or seeking an adjournment.
  5. If you are seeking an adjournment then the court is quite willing to grant an adjournment on the first occasion the matter is heard in court. If you seek further adjournments the court will need to be convinced you have a valid reason.
  6. If you are pleading guilty then the guilty plea can usually be conducted there and then. The police prosecutor will provide the court with a verbal overview of what occurred and then tender your criminal and traffic history (if you have any). You can then address the court on what occurred and the penalty to be imposed. The types of things that the court might be interested in hearing from you in regards to the penalty included.
    • Why the offence occurred
    • What you do for living
    • How much money you make a week
    • The impact a disqualification will have on your family and personal life
    • The impact a disqualification will have on your employment or education
    • Addressing any similar charges you have previously committed
    • Addressing whether a conviction should be recorded or not



What happens after the disqualification ends

After the period of disqualification has ended you will need to attend Queensland Transport and reapply for your licence.  You cannot simply start driving after your disqualification period has ended.  Drink driving in Queensland does not incur any demerit points.

After you have been disqualified you will be on a probationary licence for 1 year once you get your licence back, this means that;


  1. You have only 4 demerit points available; and
  2. You have a zero alcohol limit for 1 year


Queensland Transport now require that you do a course in order to obtain your licence.  If this is your first drink driving charge or if you have other drink driving charges but they occurred before 10 September 2021 then you need to do a short online course.  Details can be found here   If this is your second or more drink driving charge and any previous drink driving charges occurred after 10 September 2021 then you need to do a more intense course.  Details can be found by clicking here  



You will be required to have an interlock device fitted to your vehicle for the period of one year if the charge was mid range drink driving or high range drink driving or if this is your 2nd drink driving charge in 5 years.

This means you cannot start driving on your licence (once the disqualification period ends) until the interlock is fitted to your nominated vehicle.  The court has no discretion to allow you not to do this as it is a Queensland Transport licencing requirement.  More details can be found here.


What does a drink driving lawyer in Coolangatta court actually do?

The role of a drink driving lawyer in Coolangatta is pretty simple its about getting the very best outcome for the client, that usually involves trying to the get the lowest disqualification period and fine and where appropriate arguing that a work licence should be granted.

Just as importantly its about reducing the stress level of the client by clearly explaining what will occur, what needs to be done to reduce the penalty and being able to take a clients call immediately or answer their email quickly so the client always knows what’s happening and that they can trust their lawyer is an expert and actually cares about the client and the outcome.



Drink driving FAQ’s

This is not my first drink driving charge what will happen?

If your previous drink driving charge occurred within the last 5 years then the minimum disqualification period will be increased.  You will also face a higher fine.


Will I go to jail for drink driving?

People can go to prison for drink driving but that is usually where they have a number of previous drink driving offences. 

Queensland law states that if you have 3 high range drink driving charges in 5 years then prison must be part of the sentence but this does not mean a person will actually need to serve that in custody.


I did not agree to give a sample of my breath or blood

This is a complicated area of the law so always get advice from an experienced traffic lawyer. In general the police have wide powers to request a sample of blood or breath from those people they suspect have been drink driving.  We have a whole article on Refusing a Breathalyser Test in Queensland


I was charged with high range drink driving and I read you cannot get a work licence

That is correct you cannot get a work licence if charged with high range drink driving.  The best option is to try and reduce your disqualification period as much as possible.


Are there defences to a drink driving charge?

The main defence who be that the test wasn’t carried out within 3 hours.  We have an article on every drink driving loophole in Queensland.


If I am disqualified in Queensland can I still drive in another Australian state?

No, a disqualification in Queensland applies through Australia.


Are you really experts on drink driving? All the lawyers websites claim they are as well

We appear in court 4-5 times a week dealing with people charged with drink driving and those needing work licences.  Most lawyers who dabble in drink driving wouldn’t do that many drink driving charges in a year.

The whole firm is dedicated to drink driving and other traffic related charges and has done so since 2010.


I can just use the duty lawyer and not have to pay for a lawyer

Duty lawyers wont act for people charged with drink driving.  If you don’t organise your own lawyer then you will be facing the Magistrate on your own.


Can I change the court?

The court might be willing to transfer your charge to another court for example one closer to where you live if you are pleading guilty to the charge.


Do I really need to attend court in person for a drink driving charge?

Yes, you cannot plead guilty online to drink driving.  If you live interstate then in some cases if you engage a lawyer then you might be able to have them deal with the charge with you phoning into the court proceedings.


When does the disqualification begin?

If you plead guilty the disqualification states as soon as the Magistrate imposes the disqualification period.  You would not be able to drive away from the court.


I have P plates can I get a work licence?

No, you must have an open licence at the time of the offence.


What legislation control’s drink driving in Queensland?

In Queensland drink driving is governed by the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.


I got caught drink driving in Coolangatta years ago but never went to court

If you missed your court date an arrest warrant was almost certainly issued.

You can voluntarily surrender to the court and get the matter dealt with however contact a lawyer as the process if not handled right could see you spend time in the watchhouse which is not a pleasant experience.



Information to assist people appearing in Coolangatta court for drink driving


Coolangatta Court is located at 136 Musgrave Street, Coolangatta Qld 4225

Directions to the court can be found here Map


Court contact and hours

8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday

Phone   (07) 5513 9700

Email     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


How to find who is in Coolangatta Court

The court will publish a list of all people who are to appear inn the court that day.  This is known as the daily law list.  People in the Coolangatta court that day can be found by clicking here.



The Coolangatta court each year decides which days they will hear different types and charges and legal matters.

Click here to see the current Coolangatta court timetable


Coolangatta FAQ’s

Where is the local Queensland Transport Office?

Department of Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre, Currumbin Waters



Where is the best parking for Coolangatta Court

If you get to Coolangatta Court early enough then there are some parking in the streets around the court.  Otherwise there is free parking at the Chalk & Lanham Street Carpark


Where is the closest public transport to Coolangatta court?

 Coolangatta Transit Centre


What is the best coffee nearby?

Our lawyers like Krish Café or Koffee at Tiffany's


Where is the local interlock installers?

Smart Start Interlocks at Currumbin


Suburbs covered by Coolangatta Magistrates Court




Palm Beach




Clarity law’s closet office

Clarity Law Gold Coast

Corporate Centre One

Level 15, 2 Corporate Court, Bundall 4217

Phone: 0756132683 



What do you charge?

We charge a flat upfront fee for our services, that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills. 

We are upfront with our fees, if you look at other law firms few, if any, clearly list how much they are going to charge you.  Clarity Law on the other hand are happy to list our prices as we are sure no other Coolangatta law firm can match our prices and experience. While we will never be the cheapest we do offer the best value in our opinion.

Our prices include;

  • full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
  • Contacting the prosecution unit to obtain your traffic history, charge documents and a copy of the prosecutor court brief (QP9) so we know what the prosecutor will tell the court occurred
  • drafting submissions for the court
  • arranging for you to attend a driving course (if appropriate)
  • all telephone calls, emails and meetings with you
  • detailed information to you on the likely penalty and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
  • appearing in the court with you for your guilty plea to the drink driving charge

To see what we will charge for a guilty plea click here


Our Experience

Since 2010 we have been representing people throughout the Coolangatta region who have been charged with a DUI or Drink Driving charge and need a good traffic lawyer to represent them.

Our client often come to us nervous, worried and needing answers. This is not a time for uncertainty over your future nor the costs you will pay.

We strive to give you immediate comprehensive advice and a fixed fee so you can be sure of your legal costs and whether you qualify for a work licence.


Our Lawyers

Every one of our lawyers is extremely experienced appearing in the Queensland Courts every week representing people on a huge range of traffic, DUI and drink driving charges.

Steven Brough


Russell Tannock


Lucy Ferguson


Jacob Purden


Belinda Smyth – Client Services Manager


Between our lawyers we have appeared in court thousands of times representing clients with drink driving charges throughout Queensland


Why should I choose you and not just represent myself?

Just some reasons include;

  1. we know the Magistrates and what they want to hear to give you the lowest disqualification period and penalty
  2. we have good relationships with the police prosecutors meaning we can often have them support a work licence application or minimum disqualification submission
  3. we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
  4. engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
  5. your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
  6. you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court which will reduce your stress level
  7. unlike the police or the magistrate, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests


If I contacted you what would occur?

If you contact us then Steven Brough the firm’s founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your drink driving charge, all at no cost.

If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your charge. Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. Every one of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them and they know the Coolangatta courts and the magistrates and prosecutors.


How do I get more information or engage you to act for me?

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;


  • Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you



  • Click here to select a time for us to call you back


  • Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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