Drink Driving


Going to court for drink driving? Don’t risk it, call to speak with one of our award-winning drink driving lawyers in Sydney & Parramatta for a FREE consultation and FIXED fees.

As a leading, award-winning traffic law firm in Sydney, we focus on results. This is reflected by our hundreds of genuine five star online reviews, and our TV, radio & newspaper appearances for our expert drink driving law insight.

We are proud to have been recognised and awarded as:


An outline of the defences to drink driving charges are available here (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/drink-driving-laws-penalties-nsw-everything-you-need-to-know-new-laws-2020/).

OUR TEAM OF EXPERIENCED SOLICITORS (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/about-us/lawyers/) SPECIALISE IN:

Our award-winning team of lawyers are available 24/7 for urgent on-the-spot advice over the phone, or in person (in any one of our 8 conveniently located offices in NSW).  

To find out your chances at avoiding a licence disqualification and criminal conviction from drink driving, call our friendly team 24/7 to arrange a free consultation with a drink driving lawyer today. 

We provide experienced and practical legal representation through the entire court process. 



The only way a drink driving offender can avoid a criminal conviction and driver licence disqualification is if a Magistrate or Judge imposes a non-conviction penalty during the sentencing in court.

This will also result in no fine being imposed against an offender.

There are 2 types of non-conviction penalties available for a Magistrate or Judge to impose in a drink driving sentence in court- either a section 10 dismissal or a Conditional Release Order without conviction.

A section 10 can be achieved in a drink driving sentence even after pleading guilty in court.

Click here for a guide on how to get a section 10 non-conviction in court for a drink driving offence (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/how-to-avoid-a-criminal-conviction-after-pleading-guilty-in-court/).


It’s important to know from the beginning, how much your drink driving case is going to cost you if you want an experienced specialist drink driving lawyer to prepare and represent you in court.

We believe in the importance of full transparency with fees.

We provide fixed fees for all drink driving cases in the Local and District Courts across NSW Courts.

These fixed fees (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/fixed-fees/) are also publicly available on our website.

Some cases may be more complex requiring further work to ensure the case is prepared and presented in the best possible way in court, which may require further costs. This could include the need to get a compelling psychologist report, or the need to attend court more than once. If this applies to your case, our drink driving lawyers will inform you of this right away during the first free consultation.

If you’re pleading guilty to drink driving:

If you’re pleading not guilty to drink driving:

What are the Penalties for Drink Driving?

The penalties a Court can impose on you will depend on whether your drink driving offence is considered a ‘first offence’ or a ‘second or subsequent offence’.

A drink driving conviction (criminal record), licence disqualification and fine can be completely avoided even after pleading guilty if the court can be convinced to give you a non-conviction penalty under section 10 dismissal or Conditional Release Order without conviction.

If the court convicts you for DUI, low, mid or high-range drink driving, you will end up having a criminal conviction, licence disqualification, and possible fine.

However, can you go to jail for drink driving?

The answer is Yes! But each case is unique and highly dependent on your given circumstances. You will avoid all of this if the court is convinced to give you a section 10 dismissal or non-conviction Conditional Release Order.

For a complete outline of all drink driving penalties & licence disqualifications in NSW click here (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/drink-driving-laws-penalties-nsw-everything-you-need-to-know-new-laws-2020/).

The Court can and will impose any one of the following types of drink driving penalties:

  1. Section 10 Dismissal (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/section-10-dismissal/)
  2. Conditional Release Order with or without conviction (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/conditional-release-order/)
  3. Fine (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/)
  4. Community Correction Order (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/community-correction-order/)
  5. Intensive Correction Order (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/intensive-correction-order/)
  6. Full-Time Imprisonment (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/full-time-imprisonment/)

Preparing for a Drink Driving Court Case

It’s critical to properly prepare and present your drink driving case for sentence in court.

You may be able to avoid and walk away without a criminal conviction, licence disqualification and prison sentence if the Magistrate or Judge is convinced enough to give you a section 10 dismissal or non-conviction Conditional Release Order sentence.

The below is a guide on how you can best prepare your drink driving case for sentence to maximise your chances at getting the best possible outcome in court.

Good Character Reference Letters

Gathering and using compelling character reference letters for the Magistrate or Judge to read on your sentence can significantly improve your court result.

Referees should be carefully chosen who can outline the best points in your case, such as any expressions of your remorse and insight, the effects of a loss of your licence or criminal conviction on your job and any people who rely on your income or licence.

Referees can include your partner, friend, colleague, family, charity, religious organisation and employer.

It is also recommended to draft an apology letter (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/traffic-law/how-to-write-an-apology-letter-for-drink-driving-offences/) expressing the same points.

Traffic Offenders Program

You can significantly improve your court outcome if you complete a court recognised accredited traffic offenders program before your sentence date.

Completing a traffic offenders program can significantly increase your chances at avoiding a disqualification and conviction. It allows the Magistrate or Judge to accept you have insight into your offending conduct.

Details on this and how to enrol can be found on this link, Traffic Offenders Program Courses (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/traffic-law/traffic-offenders-program/).

In fact, our lawyers have lectured in the accredited traffic offenders programs around NSW, we therefore understand its importance in preparing drink driving cases for court, and how to best use it in court.

Negotiate with police

If any of the defences to drink driving outlined on this page apply to you, you could successfully convince police to withdraw the charge early through negotiations, which our drink driving lawyers have a lot of experience in doing.

This will require your lawyer to send the prosecution with a document called ‘legal representations’ outlining the weaknesses in the police case.

You could also convince police to change the police facts sheet.

The police fact sheet is an outline summary of your drink driving offence for the Magistrate to read before deciding on an appropriate sentence.

If you don’t agree with some or all of the facts sheet, you may negotiate to change it to something more favourable to you. This can convince the court to impose a much more lenient sentence.

Psychologist reports

A well written psychologist report from an experienced and well-respected psychologist or psychiatrist can convince the Magistrate or Judge in court to impose a lighter sentence for a drink driving offence.

A strong psychologist report may outline any mental illness you suffer, any direct nexus between your mental illness and your decision to consume alcohol and drive, your treatment and progress. It may also outline your expressions of remorse and insight, which are critical points to cover in a drink driving case.

To ensuring you get an effective psychologist report, it’s best to get it done from an expert who is well respected and experienced in writing such types of reports for courts. Our team have hand-picked the best experts for this job.

Reduction in sentence for pleading guilty early

The Magistrate or Judge will reduce your sentence by 25% if a plea of guilty to drink driving is entered on the first court date. This will result in a more lenient sentence.

A plea of guilty being entered on a subsequent or later court date will reduce the extent of discount on the sentence you can get in court.

That discount will continue reducing until you either plead guilty or you’re found guilty by the court. This is why it’s critical to get early advice and guidance from an experienced drink driving lawyer.

What are Your Options In Court?

Pleading Not Guilty

If you plead ‘not guilty’ to a drink driving charge in court, your case will get adjourned to another court date for a defended hearing in the Local Court.

The police will be required to serve you with all their evidence before the hearing commences.

On the hearing date in court, the Magistrate will hear both sides of evidence before deciding on a verdict of either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.

If the Court finds you to be ‘not guilty’, the drink driving charge will get dismissed, and you will be acquitted- putting an end to the case. In some cases, you can then apply to the court for the police to pay your legal fees.

If the Court finds you to be ‘guilty’ after hearing the evidence, the Magistrate or Judge will then determine the most appropriate sentencing penalty to impose on you after hearing further evidence from you.

You will be found ‘not guilty’ by a Court if the prosecution is unable to prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt in court:

  • You drove a motor vehicle, or you occupied the driver seat and attempted to put the vehicle in motion; and
  • You did this while either being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or while having the prescribed concentration of alcohol in your breath or blood for your specific drink driving charge i.e. low-range, mid-range or high-range.

Pleading Guilty

By pleading guilty in court to drink driving or driving under the influence (DUI), the Magistrate or Judge will proceed to sentence on the same day. This means, the court will determine an appropriate penalty.

If you require further time to be properly prepared, you can ask the court for an adjournment to have the sentence for your DUI case heard on another day in court.

Your driver licence will not be disqualified, nor will you end up having a criminal conviction or fine for drink driving if the Magistrate or Judge is convinced to give you a non-conviction penalty sentence, such as section 10 dismissal or non-conviction Conditional Release Order, even after pleading guilty.

Click here on our Complete Drink Driving Defence Guide to begin preparing your guilty sentence for drink driving in order to maximise your chances at getting the best possible result in court.

We are Australia’s leading drink driving lawyers (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/about-us/lawyers/) with over 40-years of combined experience specialising in drink driving cases.

Don’t risk your driver licence and livelihood. You may still be able to avoid a disqualification and conviction, even after pleading guilty to drink driving.

For legal advice on this, call our friendly team 24/7 to arrange a free first consultation with a drink driving lawyer today.

Good Character Reference Guide For Court

How to Write an Apology Letter for Court

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