Low Range Drink Driving Penalties in NSW

Sahar Adatia.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And so desperate were those times for one United Kingdom woman trying to avoid a drink driving charge that her measures – reflecting unprecedented levels of desperation – saw her guzzle down a gush of alcohol-based hand sanitiser in a bid to disguise the booze and fool police.

Sophie Nutter, from Beverley, Yorkshire, was pulled over back in April 2021 after police noticed the Suzuki Swift she was driving was vehemently swerving all over the road.

The 29-year-old was requested to stop and when she parked, officers noticed several strange things about her vehicle.

Initially, they became aware that all four of her tyres were flat and her windscreen was unquestionably smashed, while other conspicuous marks indicated her car had endured some sort of impact.

Then, they realised there was blood on one of the rear doors of her white vehicle, before spotting another smear on one of the front headlights.

When Ms Nutter emerged from the car, officials saw that her eyes were glazed and was asked to provide a breath sample on two occasions.

Nevertheless, she refused both requests.

When the woman finally agreed to giving a breath sample, her reading recorded 52 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath, against a legal limit of 35 micrograms.

Court Hears Ms Nutter Drank Hand Sanitiser in Attempt to Reduce Alcohol Reading

As one would expect, Ms Nutter was slapped with a court attendance notice.

She appeared before Hull Crown Court where she pleaded guilty to drink driving.

She also pleaded guilty to using a vehicle likely to cause danger of injury.

Inside the court, it was heard, according to Recorder Alex Menary, that Ms Nutter had consumed the alcohol-based hand sanitiser in an effort to lessen the alcohol reading when she was breathalysed.

Nevertheless, her desperate measure failed to work.

It turns out Ms Nutter was already on a two-year suspended sentenced, imposed in October 2020, which she evidently breached with her drink driving offence, and only narrowly missed going to jail.

Her previous crimes included possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to supply, and possessing criminal property, which dated back to March 2019.

The woman also had another offence going back to November 2018, which saw her being concerned in supplying cocaine.

Ms Nutter was sternly warned by Recorder Menary that she would almost definitely face a jail sentence should she committ any further offences or breach her order again.

Ultimately, the drink driver was handed a one-year community order with 20 days of rehabilitation and 25 hours of unpaid word.

In addition to this, she has been banned from driving for 23 months and was ordered to pay a sum of £100 in costs.

Low Range Drink Driving Penalties in NSW

In NSW, a low-range drink driving offence takes place where a person drives a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) reading of between 0.05g and less than 0.08g, in every 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood.

For first-time low-range drink driving offenders, the penalties include an on-the-spot fine of $581, which NSW police can issue, along with an immediate driver licence suspension of three months, as per section 224 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).

An on-the-spot fine means that you will not be required to appear at court before a Magistrate, and there will be no criminal conviction as a result of paying the fine.

If you wish to avoid the fine and the three-month immediate licence suspension period, you can choose to resolve the matter in court, meaning you will be required to appear in court during which you plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to the low-range drink driving charge. Heavier penalties apply if dealt with in court.

If the Magistrate finds that you are ‘not guilty’ of the offence or you are sentenced with a non-conviction penalty, you will not have to pay the fine and avoid the licence disqualification period.

You can also elect to appeal the police suspension, meaning you will be required to attend court, during which if “exceptional circumstances” may be shown to justify lifting or varying the suspension.

Here, the Magistrate will decide if they lift the suspension period or reduce it.

For second or subsequent low-range drink driver offenders, or if you court-elect any of these offences as a first-time offender, you will be required to appear before a Local Court Magistrate.You can read more about the drink driving maximum penalties you can face should you elect to have your low-range drink driving offence resolved in court.

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