Drink Driving Defences

Availability of Defences

A full defence is where you choose to plead not guilty to the charges being laid, to either prove you did not commit the alleged offence or you were not responsible for them in any way. Certain full defences to various driving offences include Duress, Necessity, Emergency, Issue of Identification, Factual Dispute and Honest and Reasonable Mistake (as to the status of your driver’s licence or the presence of alcohol in your drink). Note that it is not a defence of Honest and Reasonable Mistake to simply say you thought you were fine or would be under the limit.

A “partial” defence may be where you submit subjective material or circumstances during a guilty plea which provide either some explanation for the offence, or the associated behaviour, and sometimes will be considered in mitigation of the penalty to be imposed.

In NSW, partial defences (other than seeking a section 10) do not exist for any drink or drug driving charges, as the Magistrates’ are required to impose mandatory minimum disqualification periods if found guilty of the offence and if a section 10 is not appropriate. Subjective circumstances may assist in the amount of the fine given however and also whether the Magistrate does not impose more than the minimum disqualification. and whether or not the Magistrate chooses to impose a conviction or not.