Driving involves a great deal of responsibilities in addition to simply learning to drive a vehicle from a driving school. It is about following safe driving practices and abiding by the rules and regulations while ensuring the well-being of the people on the road. But unfortunately, accidents happen regularly while driving. These accidents can happen for various reasons, leading to pedestrians and other road users losing their lives.

You must have been told during a driving lessons that one of the most common reasons behind road accidents includes the case of drunk driving. Drink driving is an offence if you drive a vehicle with an exceeded Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). But you may wonder what this limit is. What will happen if you drink above this level?

Well,  this blog will cover what drunk driving is, what BAC limits are in the Australian states, and the penalties. Moreover, it will cover the duration after which you can drive a vehicle. So let’s get started.

What is Drink Driving?

When someone consumes alcohol and then drives, a vehicle is called drunk driving. Two main categories of drinking and driving offences include the Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) and second is  Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

The more frequent scenario involves exceeding the BAC limit, usually identified during routine police breath tests. On the other hand, DUI pertains to compromised vehicle control due to intoxication.

What is Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)?

BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content. It indicates the alcohol content in a person’s bloodstream for safe vehicle operation. BAC can be checked by blowing into a breathalyser or providing a sample of blood, saliva, or urine.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): Limit and Penalties

Alcohol-related driving offences, often called drunk driving or drunk driving, are a big problem in Australia. It leads to many lives being lost every year. Even though the government runs many campaigns and enforces penalties for drunk driving, many cases still happen.

Statistics show that about 30% of deadly crashes in Australia happen because of drunk driving, making it the main reason for these accidents. Thus, several regions across Australia have implemented different penalties and limits. They are as follows:

1. New South Wales (NSW)

Around one in every seven car crashes in NSW happens because of drunk driving. To tackle this problem, the state government introduced a Road Safety Plan in 2021. The range of PCA prescribed by the NSW is as follows:

  • Novice:  A P or L plater with a BAC level above zero.
  • Low Range: A driver who has a BAC level between .05 to .079.
  • Mid-Range: A driver who has a BAC level between .08 to .149.
  • High-Range: A driver who has a BAC level of .15 and above.
  • Special Range: A special category driver who has a BAC level over .02.
BAC Range Penalties
 Low/Special/Novice Cases The penalty notice fine is $603. There is a maximum of a $2,200 court fine. There’s an immediate license suspension for a minimum of three months. If it happens again, an alcohol interlock order might be needed.
 Mid-Range Cases The court fine is $2,200, and the license suspension is for at least six months immediately. You might even go to prison for up to 9 months. An alcohol interlock could also be required.
High-Range Cases The court fine is $3,300. Your license is suspended immediately for at least 12 months, and you might go to prison for longer. An alcohol interlock order could also be given.

2. Western Australia

Drink Drinking and driving cases have increased the accidents cases in western Australia, and it is the primary cause of road injuries. Here is the BAC and penalty list of Western Australia that should be followed. Thus, the law has defined and implemented penalties for such cases. They are as follows:

BAC Range Penalties
0.05 to 0.079 There is a penalty of $1,250 for the first offence. The court may choose to disqualify your license.
0.08 to 0.089 The penalty can range from $750 to $2,250 for the first offence. You will face a minimum six-month license disqualification.
0.09 to 0.10 The penalty can range from $850 and $2,250 for the first offence. There is a minimum suspension of seven months.
0.11 to 0.12 There is a penalty that ranges from $1,000 and $2,250. There is also a suspension of eight-month for a first offence.
0.13 to 0.14 There is a penalty that ranges from $1,150- $2,250. There is a suspension for at least nine months for first-time offenders.
0.15 to over There is a penalty ranging between $1,700 to$3,750. There is a suspension for a minimum period of 10 months for first-time offenders.

3. South Australia

In South Australia, the law is very strict regarding drinking and driving. Below is the list of penalties according to the BAC level:

BAC Range Penalties
0 .05 to 0.079 The minimum disqualification of three months. You could face an on-the-spot fine of $771 or a court fine of $1,100, along with four demerit points.
0.08 to 0.149 The minimum disqualification period is of six months. You might receive a fine ranging from $900 to $1,300 and get five demerit points.
0.15 or over The minimum disqualification is 12 months. You could also face a fine between $1,100 and $1,600, along with six demerit points.
BAC level of 0.15 and over with a child under 16 in the vehicle The minimum disqualification is 12 months. You could face a fine between $1,100 and $1,600, with 6 demerit points.

After how Much Time can you Drive Post Drinking?

There is no straight answer to this question. The BAC level in your blood defines the duration you can drive post-drinking. The faster your body metabolises the alcohol, the faster you can drive and vice versa. This metabolism depends on various factors, such as: :

1. Age

As you age, your body’s alcohol processing slows down a bit. This happens because your liver and body water content decreases as you age. As a result, alcohol can remain in your bloodstream longer and thus raises your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

2. Body type

Body type significantly influences this aspect. People with a smaller physique could potentially exhibit a greater Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) than those with larger builds, even if their alcohol intake is the same.

3. Medication

Drinking during your medication can elevate the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level as your liver get slower in processing alcohol. Substances like aspirin, tranquillisers, anti-depressants, and cough medicines can have an influence when combined with alcohol.

4. Level of Alcohol in the Body

The alcohol percentage in a drink directly impacts the intoxication level. A higher alcohol percentage leads to stronger intoxication, prolonging the effects.

5. Gender

Women process alcohol differently than men due to physiological reasons. They can feel stronger effects even if they are the same size. This is because of lower body water volume, hormones, and less of a liver enzyme that handles alcohol. These factors make alcohol’s effects last longer for women than men.

6. Body Fat

Alcohol does not get absorbed quickly and remains in your bloodstream until your liver processes it. It is because your fat cells contain less water than your muscles do. If you have more body fat, your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) will be higher.

The Bottom Line

Prioritise safe driving and avoid alcohol consumption before getting behind the Steering. Understanding the factors influencing Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels is important to avoid legal implications. Moreover, you must understand your moral duty as a driver.

Moreover, if you are looking to learn safe and responsible driving? Look no further than Onroad, your trusted Melbourne or Sydney driving school. The experienced driving instructors are committed to providing comprehensive driving lessons on road safety.