Clarity Law -

South East Queensland's most experienced traffic law firm

Drink driving

Drink driving (also referred to as a DUI or driving UIL), is one of the most serious traffic offences a person can find themselves charged with.  In Queensland unlike other states there is a mandatory requirement to disqualify a person’s drivers licence no matter what the personal circumstances are or the affect a disqualification will have on a person and their family.

A drink driving charge is one of the most common offences that a Magistrate will encounter however along with increased enforcement and public education over the past few years the Courts attitude to drink driving has harden especially in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Courts.  If you are charged with a DUI or drink driving offence do not treat it lightly as the Magistrate will not be.


What level of alcohol will see me charged with drink driving?

In general, the higher the BAC reading the worse the punishment.   In Queensland the drink driving offences are usually separated into low range drink driving that being below .1, mid-range drink driving that being a reading between .1 and 1.149 and high range drink driving (also called a DUI or UIL) which is anything above .15.

Below is a table with the applicable BAC limits:

Licence class or age

Legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC)

Holder of a learner, P1/P2 provisional or probationary licence (regardless of age).

(no alcohol limit)

Holder of an open licence.
(However, if you obtain your class RE motorcycle licence, you must ride with a zero BAC in your first year of riding, regardless of your age or the class of vehicle licence you hold).

Below 0.05
(general alcohol limit)

Holder of a licence when driving, or in charge of, a truck (GVM over 4.5t), bus (built or fitted to carry more than 12 adults, including the driver), articulated motor vehicle, B-double, road train, vehicle carrying dangerous goods, taxi, limousine, tow truck, pilot vehicle, and public passenger vehicle or a vehicle while it is being used by a driver trainer to give driver training (or any driver supervising a learner driver).

(no alcohol limit)


What period of disqualification of my driver licence will I get?

First time convictions carry a fine and disqualification. The length of disqualification and amount of the fine depends largely on the blood alcohol limit. If there are previous convictions the fine and disqualification time will increase.   According to the legislation if there are 3 convictions in 5 years with BAC readings above 0.15% jail time will be a compulsory part of the punishment.

Below is a table showing a table of possible penalties for first time offenders:

Over the "no alcohol limit"

  • Maximum fine $1,400 and/or 3 months' imprisonment; AND
  • Mandatory disqualification of 3 months with a maximum of 9 months

Over "general alcohol limit" (.05% - .099%)

  • Maximum fine $1,400 and/or 3 months' imprisonment; AND
  • Mandatory disqualification of 1 month with maximum of 9 months

Over “middle alcohol limit” (.1%-.149)

  • Maximum fine $1,400 and/or 3 months' imprisonment; AND
  • Mandatory disqualification of 3 months with maximum of 12 months

Over "high limit" (over .15%)

  • Maximum fine $2,100 and/or 9 months' imprisonment; AND
  • Mandatory disqualification of 6 months with a maximum of an absolute  disqualification

It is also an offence to refuse or fail to provide a specimen of breath for analysis.  If you are charged with this you are considered to have committed a high range drink driving charge (DUI)

I am charged with drink driving but need to drive during any disqualification

It may be 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 5years but this must be done at the time you appear in the Court to plead guilty, it cannot be done afterwards.  Please see our section on work licences for further information or check out the most comprehensive guide to apply for a work licence on the internet.

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.

Well thought out submissions and arguments before a Magistrate can in our experience significantly reduce the length of your disqualification.  There are a number of factors that can lead a Magistrate to impose the lowest penalty possible, we know them all.


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.

It does not matter that the car was not on a road.  You can be charged with drink driving even if the car was on private property such as a car park or driveway.

Are there defences to a drink driving charge?

Most defences to a drink driving offence have now gone.  The police must conduct the breath or blood test within 3 hours of you driving and it must be conducted in accordance with the law.

If you are charged with a failure to provide a breath sample then it is a defence to this charge to prove that due to a physical condition you were unable to provide a sufficient specimen of breath.

This is a very technical area of the law and if you think you have a defence you should contact us.


Will I get a criminal record?

No all traffic convictions are just that, traffic convictions, they are not considered to be criminal charges.  The Courts are unlikely not to record a conviction unless specific evidence is placed before it that a traffic conviction will harm you in some way.  It should be noted however that overseas travel may be more difficult or impossible if a conviction for a DUI is recorded, especially to Islamic countries or the United States or Canada


Do I get to keep my physical licence?

No, you are required to surrender your licence to Queensland Transport by the day after the Court disqualifies you or to the Police prosecutor on the Court date.

The surrender of your licence may in some circumstances deprive you of your main form of identification, you may therefore wish to attend Queensland Transport before the Court and obtain an 18+ card to help with identification during your period of disqualification.

What will happen in Court?

We have a great article on appearing in Brisbane Court for drink driving charge that will give you more information.


Will my matter be in the paper?

Possibly, the Court is an open Court, what this means is that any person is entitled to watch the Court proceedings.  This also means that a reporter is entitled to report on what occurred in the Court.  It is not possible to have the Court ban the reporting.


When does the disqualification begin?

The disqualification starts immediately.  You would not be able to drive once you leave the Court.  If your licence was immediately suspended because you were a mid or high range drink driver then the court will take into account the time you have been suspended but the disqualification period the court sets starts from the court date.

Will I need to fit an Interlock to my car?

You will be required to have an interlock device fitted to your vehicle for the period of one year once you are eligible to obtain your driver’s licence back if you are charged with high range drink driving (DUI or UIL) or this is your second drink driving charge within 5 years.  The Court has no discretion to exempt you from an interlock if this applies to you as it is a Queensland Transport licencing requirement.  This is an area that is subject to constant change, for more information visit

What happens after my disqualification period?

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.

After you have been disqualified for a drink driving offence you will be on a probationary licence for one year, this means that;

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

You do not have to re-sit any tests to get your licence back if you were licenced at the time of the offence.

During your disqualification you cannot drive any motor vehicle for any reason.  If you do drive then you can be charged with disqualified driving which is a very serious charge.


Should I get a Lawyer to represent me?

In a word, yes this is not an offence where you should simply turn up to the Court without a lawyer.  The consequences and penalties the Court may impose are too serious not to seek to minimise the penalty by having a lawyer.

If you have a bad traffic history, have previously been convicted of drink driving or are charged with mid or high range drink driving offence then a Lawyer is critical.  We get 3-4 calls a week from people who represented themselves in court and received extremely harsh penalties and need to try and appeal the result.  In most cases an appeal is not possible or if it is will cost a huge amount for the legal fees.  It is better to have a lawyer from the start to minimise the drink driving penalty.


Engaging Clarity Law to act for you

Engaging us gives you the best chance at obtaining the lowest disqualification period and a fine as low possible.   We are the leading traffic law firm in South East Queensland, everyday our lawyers are in Court getting the best outcome for clients.  We have appeared in over 500 drink driving charges and no one has the experience we do.  Just some of the benefits of us acting for you for your drink driving charge include;

  • we know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome
  • we have good relationships with the Police prosecutors meaning we can often have them not object to the Court imposing the minimum disqualification period applicable.
  • 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
  • engaging us shows the Court you are taking your charges seriously
  • your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
  • you will be fully informed of what is to happen in Court and what this means for you after Court
  • unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests

Here at Clarity Law we appear every week in the Courts with people charged with drink driving, it is this experience that allows us to get the absolute best result for clients.  Other law firms simply don’t have the experience that we do and don’t know the Magistrates like we do.


What Courts do you appear in?

We appear in every Court in South East Queensland.  Just some of the Court we appear in are;

1.            Beenleigh Magistrates Court

2.            Brisbane Magistrates Court

3.            Caloundra Magistrates Court

4.            Caboolture Magistrates Court

5.            Gympie Magistrates Court

6.            Holland park Magistrates Court

7.            Ipswich Magistrates Court

8.            Maroochydore Magistrates Court

9.            Noosa Magistrates Court

10.          Pine Rivers Magistrates Court

11.          Southport Magistrates Court

12.          Toowoomba Magistrates Court

13.          Wynnum Magistrates Court

For a full list of Courts we appear in click here.


Will I need to come in to the office to see you?

We have offices in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts but in most cases we can handle everything by email and the phone without you ever having to come into our office.  We are also open outside normal business hours for your convenience.


What do you charge?

We charge a flat upfront fee for our services, that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills.  We don't charge any travelling fees either; if you are in Maroochydore or Southport you will pay the same price as if you are Brisbane.

We are also 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 South East Queensland law firm can match our prices and experience. Our prices include;

  • full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
  • negotiations with the police prosecution unit including obtaining traffic history and charge documents
  • drafting submissions for the court
  • arranging for you to attend a driving course (if appropriate)
  • all telephone calls, faxes 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


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;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  3. email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.