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Should I plead guilty?

With the vast majority of alcohol-related driving offences there is little point in doing other than pleading guilty. There is a discount factor in terms of penalty when a plea of guilty is entered, and the earlier the plea is entered the better. Issues such as the accuracy of testing devices, the validity of the laws relating to the offences and the powers of the police to test people have been tried and tested in the courts over a period of years.

The check-list below is designed so that you can be sure that a plea of guilty is the appropriate course. If you answer "no" to any of the questions below you should seek legal advice with a view to pleading not guilty.

  • Were you "driving", including steering, starting or otherwise in control of the motor vehicle when apprehended?
  • Was it on a public road or road related area including hotel parking areas, state forest, public reserve, service station or the like?
  • Were you tested either by blood test or breath analysis (PCA only)?
  • If by breath analysis, were you tested by more than just the roadside test (PCA only)?
  • If by blood test, was a roadside sobriety test administered by the police (PCA only)?
  • Had you consumed alcohol within the 12 hours before your apprehension (PCA only)?
  • Are you satisfied that the police operated the equipment properly?
  • Were you tested within two hours of the accident, roadside breath test or other incident that led to your apprehension?
  • Were you tested at a place other than your usual place of abode?

Defences related to the number of drinks consumed or not consumed are very unlikely to succeed. Many people charged with alcohol related driving offences have honestly believed that they have only had two or three drinks, but the reading is indicative of five or six. The fact is that magistrates consistently find in favour of the equipment rather than memory.