What is High Range PCA?
A High Range PCA (Prescribed Content of Alcohol) offence is committed when a person drives with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above.
What are the penalties for a High Range PCA?
Given the serious nature of the offence, the penalties for High Range PCA can be severe, even for a first offender. The maximum penalties differ based upon if you have committed a ‘Second major offence’ within a 5 year period. These include:
- Another PCA Offence (Drink Driving);
- Presence of certain drugs (other than alcohol) in oral fluid, blood or urine
- Use or attempted use of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other drug
- Negligent, furious or reckless driving
- Negligent Driving (occasioning death or grievous bodily harm);
- Menacing driving
|Minimum disqualification under Interlock||6 months|
|Maximum disqualification under Interlock||9 months|
|Interlock Period||2 years|
|Maximum prison sentence||18 months|
‘Second and Subsequent’ Offence
|Minimum disqualification under Interlock||9 months|
|Maximum disqualification under Interlock||12 months|
|Interlock period||4 years|
|Maximum prison sentence||2 years|
Factors a Court will consider when imposing a Sentence for a High Range PCA
The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal has handed down a guideline judgment for offenders found guilty of High Range PCA, which includes a description of the “ordinary case” of an offender who has committed this type of offence.
An ‘ordinary case’ is one where:
- the offender drove to avoid personal inconvenience or because the offender did not believe that he or she was sufficiently affected by alcohol;
- the offender was detected by a random breath test;
- the offender has prior good character;
- the offender has nil, or a minor, traffic record;
- the offender’s licence was suspended on detection;
- the offender pleaded guilty;
- there is little or no risk of re-offending;
- the offender would be significantly inconvenienced by the loss of licence.
The moral culpability of a high range PCA will, however, be increased by the following:
- the degree of intoxication above 0.15;
- erratic or aggressive driving;
- a collision between the vehicle and any other object;
- competitive driving or showing off;
- the length of the journey at which others are exposed to risk;
- the number of persons actually put at risk by the driving.
In addition to this, where an offender has committed a second or subsequent high range PCA offence and where any number of aggravating factors are present to a significant degree or where the prior offence is a high range PCA offence, a sentence of less severity than full-time imprisonment would generally be inappropriate.
The Interlock program
If you are convicted of a High Range PCA, you must participate in the Interlock program. After your disqualification period has ended, a device will be fitted to your car which you will be required to blow into before you turn on the ignition. More information can be found in our blog.