New drink driving laws will only decrease deterrence

The Law Society of NSW has voiced its concerns about new laws for drink-driving offences in NSW, which come into effect on 20 May 2019.

Under the new laws, drink drivers who are first-time, low-range offenders will receive an immediate three-month licence suspension and a fine of $561.
From 20 May 2019, offenders who drive with the presence of illicit drugs for the first time will also receive a $561 fine and a three-month licence suspension if the offence is confirmed by laboratory analysis.

President of the Law Society of NSW, Elizabeth Espinosa, said the Law Society does not support the new laws.

 “We are particularly concerned that the effect of the ‘drink driving is a crime’ campaign will be diluted if low-range PCA offences are dealt with by penalty notices rather than by the courts,” she said.

 “There is also a genuine deterrent factor for first-time low-range PCA offenders in going to court.

 “The experience, and shame, of having to appear before a Magistrate, undertake a traffic offender program, and be warned of the consequences of further offending may well have a significantly greater deterrent effect on future offending than a penalty notice, fine and suspension.

 “We are of the view that the reforms will decrease deterrence, increase offence and recidivism rates, and have a significant impact on people’s livelihoods - particularly those living in regional and remote areas that lack public transport options and where courts sit on a part-time basis.

 “Currently low-range PCA offences account for only 1.9 per cent of all Local Court matters, however, despite being designed to reduce the pressure on the Local Court, these new laws may in fact have the opposite effect as it is likely that there will be a significant increase in urgent applications for appeals against the licence suspension, resulting in two hearings rather than one.”

Ms Espinosa said the Law Society of NSW made submissions, outlining its concerns, when the Bill was first introduced last year, and to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice Inquiry into the Bill.

Sue Finn | Media and Public Relations Manager
The Law Society of New South Wales
T: +61 2 9926 0288 | M: +61 413 440 699 | E: