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The Common Offences You Need to Know When Drink Driving


Many Aussies use a car to get around, but it is easy to forget how complicated driving really is. You need total concentration, excellent coordination, as well as quick reflexes to make proper judgments and decisions every time you sit behind the wheel. However, drinking alcohol severely diminishes these abilities.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol on Driving?

The following is a quick look at how drink driving can be disruptive:

  • Decreases the ability to determine speed and distance
  • Creates false confidence and a tendency to risk-taking
  • Impairs coordination and concentration
  • Slows down reaction times
  • Weakens vision, causing an impaired perception of obstacles.
  • Alcohol remains in your system the next day after excessive drinking.

What Does the Law Say About Drinking Alcohol in a Car While Driving?

All drivers must know the laws about drinking alcohol in a car while driving, which vary according to state legislation.

The land down under is known for levelling up the fun with wines and alcohol. But it is mostly illegal to drink an alcoholic beverage while driving.

Territories, such as New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Victoria, have specific laws regulating drinking alcoholic beverages while driving. Oddly enough, there is no legislation explicitly forbidding alcohol consumption while driving in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Nevertheless, it is still illegal to drive above the legal blood alcohol limit in those states and territories.

The blood alcohol limit in the continent for fully licensed drivers is 0.05. Some drivers are caught when they fail to remember this limit. To be cleared to drive, you need to register at least 0.049.

However, there is zero-tolerance for any trace of alcohol for learners and student drivers across Australia. Truck drivers of over 13-ton vehicles or carrying dangerous goods, as well as public vehicle drivers of buses and taxis, also have zero limits in Victoria, but this increases to 0.02 in New South Wales.

A breath test reads the amount of alcohol in every 100 ml of your blood affecting your bloodstream. A broad range of factors can impact your reading, including weight, height, food intake, amount of sleep, stress levels, heat and how physically active you are.

Please note that this article should not serve as legal advice. You must consult with your local road authority to validate information to know what is suitable for your situation before driving. If you are found to be driving over the blood limit, you will need good drink driving lawyers in Sydney to help in your defence.

Can I Be Arrested for Drinking in a Parked Car?

Yes and no. It will depend on the state, territory or council area you are in. It is illegal to be in your car and consume alcohol in some states. You could even be charged with drink driving while in your car sleeping off the effects of alcohol after a big night out.

Western Australia and Queensland have strict laws on drinking alcohol even in a car with its motor turned off and parked safely. In Western Australia, in particular, under the Liquor Control Act (1988), it is illegal to drink alcohol in the street, including a car parked in that street. This law is applied in the state to mitigate the problem of street drinking or drinking in public areas.

Queensland is one state that has passed controversial laws that charge drink driving even if you are not behind the wheel in a parked car. There have been cases in the Queensland courts where people were convicted of drink driving as they slept off the booze in their backseat. The reason is that these people have the car keys in their person, thus fulfilling the state’s requirement of being in charge of the vehicle. This opens the possibility of drink driving even though they had no intention of switching on the vehicle and driving it.

Queensland legal experts recommend handing the keys to someone else and not entering the vehicle to prevent any issue of being found in charge of your vehicle.

Confusingly, road laws and local council laws are split on the issue of drinking alcohol in a parked car. Many places in Australia are listed as alcohol-free zones where it is illegal to consume alcohol. Although it is not strictly illegal to drink in a parked car, in states, such as NSW, Victoria, South Australia and many others, it is best to double-check that you are not in an alcohol-free zone.

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car?

Again, it will depend on the state or territory you are in. When considering the legality of alcohol in cars, that attention is on the driver. In some territories, it is illegal for passengers to consume alcohol as well, even when the vehicle is parked by the side of the road, and the motor is switched off.

In Tasmania, ACT, Western Australia and Queensland, it is illegal for both passengers and drivers to drink alcohol in the car. It must be noted that these states can convict you of drink driving while sleeping in the backseat.

Western Australia changed its laws on street drinking back in 1988 with the Liquor Control Act. It applies penalties to drinking alcohol in a street or road, even in a parked car. Although this does not have the same severity as drink driving, it is still illegal.

Queensland has particularly harsh laws surrounding drink driving. There have been convictions of drink driving against a person sleeping in the car after a heavy night. The court considers you in charge of your vehicle if your car keys are within easy reach, such as on the dashboard or in the glove box.

Drink driving is a strict liability charge. Whether you intend to drive the vehicle or not is not important. If your blood is over the limit, you are guilty.

For NSW, South Australia and Victoria residents, there are no exact pieces of legislation or any mention in the law of it being illegal to have alcohol in your car. This could mean that passengers can drink booze while someone else drives. However, the person driving the vehicle must be in complete control and within the blood alcohol limit applicable for their license.


Drink driving on the continent is a major focus of law enforcement. Random breath testing is a critical tool in mitigating the road toll and changing perceptions towards this highly dangerous practice that can have disastrous ramifications. It has been in effect for nearly 40 years and has become a part of driving in Australia. Since then, road deaths from alcohol-related accidents have dived down significantly, saving hundreds of families year on year from tragedy.

While drinking alcohol and driving is permitted, there are limitations. You must meet the 0.05 blood alcohol limit. If you go beyond this measure, you can be charged with drink driving, a criminal offence with stiff penalties.