Special Range Drink Driving Defence Lawyers

Special range drink driving offences, known as PCA offences, can have catastrophic consequences on your life. This is why you need an expert traffic lawyer for your case. Our criminal and traffic lawyers know how to get you the most lenient sentence including having no conviction recorded. We also use defences that can lead to a not guilty acquittal.

Our criminal lawyers fight for you because we know how unfair it is losing your employment if the court takes your licence away. We know that having a licence to travel to and from work means there is enough time to kiss your kids’ goodbye in the morning and tuck them in before bed. Prison is always a last resort for drink driving offences because it devastates lives rather than rehabilitates people with alcohol problems.

Because we know the law and understand your predicament, we are relentless in our defence of clients charged with drink driving offences.

What is Special Range Drink Driving (Special Range PCA)?

The offence of Special Range PCA is committed by a special category driver who drives a motor vehicle on a public road with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.02 and below 0.05. 

Special category drivers include:

  • Learner drivers;
  • P plate drivers;
  • Drivers whose licence is either suspended, cancelled or disqualified;
  • Drivers who have been refused a driving licence;
  • Drivers who have never held a driver licence in NSW although having had a licence or permit to drive outside NSW.

The concern for most drivers charged with a Special Range PCA offence is that they will lose their licence and be unable to meet their work and family commitments as a result. Special Range PCA is an offence often dealt with by way of section 10. You will have no criminal record and you keep your driver licence (it isn’t disqualified).

Find out more about section 10’s.

Can a Special Range PCA offence be aggravated?

Yes. The moral culpability of a Special Range PCA offender will be increased by:

  • The number of prior PCA offences;
  • The degree of intoxication above 0.02;
  • Erratic or aggressive driving;
  • A collision between the vehicle and any other object;
  • Competitive driving or showing off;
  • The length of the journey at which others are exposed to risk;
  • The number of persons actually put at risk by the driving.

Where a Special Range PCA is aggravated the Magistrate will regard the charge as more serious and normally impose a harsher penalty.

Penalty for a first offence within 5 years

You will not be disqualified from driving if the court deals with your charge of Special Range PCA by way of section 10. This means you keep your driver’s licence (it isn’t disqualified) and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about section 10s.

If the court convicts you, the minimum period of disqualification for Special Range PCA is three months with an automatic disqualification of six months. The Magistrate has discretion to reduce the disqualification period after hearing submissions from your lawyer.

If you are convicted of a first offence of Special Range PCA, the maximum fine that a court can impose is $2,200.00.

Penalty for a second offence within 5 years

You will not be disqualified from driving if the court deals with your charge of Special Range PCA by way of section 10. This means you keep your driver’s licence (it isn’t disqualified) and you will have no criminal record. 

If the court convicts you, the mandatory interlock program applies to the second offence of Special Range PCA. This means to drive you will be required to install an interlock device on your car following the disqualification expiring. 

If an interlock order is made, you will be disqualified for 1-3 months then placed on the interlock program for a further 12 months.

Participants in the interlock program are required to have devices that connect to the ignition of a vehicle and prevent it from starting if the driver cannot pass an alcohol breath test. The cost of installing the device and the annual licensing fee is paid by the person subject to the interlock order. 

Interlock licence holders are required to have a zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when driving. 

If you are convicted of a second offence of Special Range PCA, the maximum fine that a court can impose is $3,300.00.

You can read about all the sentencing options that a court has here, including having no conviction recorded.

What will my traffic lawyer do to prepare my case?

To prepare your case to the highest standard and to on your behalf, evidence supporting submissions on the above factors are usually supplied to your traffic lawyer. They are then tendered to the court. Examples of evidence that may assist in an Appeal include:

  • Certificate of completion of the Traffic Offenders Program.
  • References from employers, family members and health professionals stating why you have a need for a driver’s licence e.g. for work, to pick up and drop off children from school, a chronic back condition, etc.
  • Employment contracts stating that having a driver’s licence is a condition of employment.
  • Medical documentation about any medical conditions you or members of your family have.
  • Trip planner documents showing geographic isolation or unavailability of public transport from your residential address to your place of employment.
  • A letter of apology or affidavit stating what happened.

Do I need references if pleading guilty to special range drink driving?

We believe references are an extremely important part of a plea of (not guilty?) in court. Find out more about how to write a good reference.

What are the defences to special range drink driving offences?

You may plead not guilty to a Drink driving offence if the following defences can be established:

  1. Disputing the Blood Alcohol reading – The offence of drink driving relates to your blood alcohol content when you drive the car, not when you are breath tested. It takes about 30 minutes for the police to arrest you and take you to the police station for a second more accurate test. At this time, it is normal for your blood alcohol level to go up or down. It follows that the reading recorded by police may not be a good representation of your blood alcohol content at the time of driving. By referring your case to a pharmacologist, we may be able to obtain evidence that, although you were over the limit at the time of your breath analysis, you were not over the limit at the time you drove – or if you were, you were at a lower range than charged, e.g. a low range rather than a mid-range.
  1. Home safe rule – The law prohibits the police from demanding a breath test of a driver at their home. If you are breath tested on your own property, the evidence of the blood alcohol reading is inadmissible, and the charges are dismissed.
  1. Breath analysis not taken within two hours of driving – The police are required to prove that you had the blood alcohol concentration alleged at the time you were driving. The law requires that the breath analysis occurred within two hours of driving. Where the police test a person more than two hours after they drove a car, the evidence of the blood alcohol reading is inadmissible, and the charges are dismissed.
  1. Honest and reasonable mistake of fact – This defence is available; however, Magistrates are extremely hesitant to uphold it for public policy reasons. The reasonableness element of the offence is applied stringently. This defence states that you are not guilty of a drink driving offence if at the time of driving, you held an honest belief that you were under the limit and it was reasonable for you to hold that belief in all of the circumstances. Examples of where this defence may be run are cases where people drive the ‘morning after’ thinking the alcohol is out of their system or where they have followed the prior RTA directive in relation to alcohol consumption and driving (two standard drinks in the first hour and one every hour after).

Why choose the Australian Criminal Law Group?

Our criminal lawyers are experts at obtaining the best outcome possible for Drink driving offences, including no convictions. For these offences, a good lawyer can be the difference between a conviction and no criminal record, losing your licence or keeping it and freedom or jail. 

To discuss your drink driving charge, call the Australian Criminal Law Group at our Sydney, Parramatta and Blacktown offices or make a website inquiry today.

Case Study

Mr Correy represented a woman charged with High Range PCA. She was stopped speeding in a street. Mr Correy put forward to the Magistrate that she only drove the car to escape a threat of domestic violence She was stopped less than 100 metres from where her partner had attempted to assault her. The Magistrate accepted the reason for her driving and dismissed the charge under section 10 and did not record a conviction. 

Case Study 

Mr Adut appeared for a man who was charged with High Range PCA and had five drink driving offences on his record, including two High Range PCA offences. Mr Adut took the matter to the District Court and ran a section 32 application. This was on the basis that his client was self-medicating to address his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The judge found the circumstances to be exceptional and dismissed the charge pursuant to s 32 without recording a conviction. 

Case Study

Australian Criminal Law Group represented a driver charged with High Range PCA. The driver was breath tested by police in his driveway. Joseph argued the ‘Home Safe’ defence and the magistrate dismissed the charge with a finding of not guilty.

Case Study

We represented a driver charged with High Range PCA. There had been a minor accident that delayed the breath testing because the police were not immediately called. The police alleged that the breath test was done about 1 hour and 45 minutes after the driving/accident. Joseph argued that there was room for error in the estimate of time between the driving/accident in the breath test. He argued that the court could not find beyond reasonable doubt, that the breath test was done within two hours of the driving. The magistrate dismissed the charge with a finding of not guilty.

Case Study

We acted for three drink driving sentences in one day. Two for Mid-Range PCA and one for Low Range PCA. The court dealt with each of the matters under section 10 and did not record a conviction, meaning his three clients did not lose their licence. 

Case Study

Mr Correy appeared for a client charged with Mid-Range PCA. His client had been stopped driving the morning after going out drinking with his family. The Magistrate accepted that Mr Correy’s client was unaware he was over the limit at the time he drove the car and did not record a conviction, meaning his client did not lose their licence. 

Case Study 

Australian Criminal Law Group represented a man charged with Driving under the influence, assaulting police and resisting arrest. The police relied on evidence from a roadside breath test that showed he had a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.450. When our client was told of the reading, he protested his innocence and refused to attend the police station, In the process he assaulted and resisted police. Our solicitor argued at a defended hearing that the reading was preposterously high, and the client would not have been able to communicate or interact with the police with such a high reading. Medical evidence was put forward that a reading so high would require hospitalization for alcohol poisoning and could have resulted in death. The Magistrate accepted that the conduct of our client against the reading on the breath testing machine, meant that the machine was undoubtedly broken. The magistrate dismissed the driving under the influence charge and held the arrest to be illegal and dismissed the assault police and resist arrest charges as well. Our client is now suing the police for unlawful imprisonment and malicious prosecution.



Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 No 20.  Repealed version for 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (accessed 21 June 2022 at 15:20)




This information is intended as a general guide to law only.  It should not be relied on as legal advice and it is recommended that you speak with a qualified lawyer about your situation.

Australian Criminal Law Group and its suppliers make every reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy and validity of the information provided on its web pages. At the time of updating, this information was correct, however, given the laws in NSW and Australia are continually changing, the Australian Criminal Law Group makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy.



Don’t wait.
Get in touch now.