Will I go to jail for drink driving?

Will I go to jail for drink driving?

Short answer – unlikely.

Long answer – depending on the circumstances of the offence, your traffic record and your criminal record, gaol may be a possibility. The list below highlights the gaol terms available for drink driving offences:

  • Low range PCA – does not carry a term of imprisonment as its maximum penalty.
  • Mid range PCA – maximum penalty of 9 months imprisonment if first offence; maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment if second offence
  • High range PCA – maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment if first offence; maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment if second offence


Will I go to jail for drink driving if it is my second offence?

A ‘second offence’ is categorised as a ‘second offence’ if it is your second or subsequent major offence within a period of 5 years. Repeat offending, including repeat drink driving offences, will invariably bring you closer to full –time custody. However, it is still unlikely that a sentencing magistrate will sentence you to full-time imprisonment, even if it is your second offence in a short period of time.


What will the court look at in sentencing for drink driving?

The guideline judgment on High Range PCA matters provides a helpful guide as to the issues a court must consider in sentencing offenders for drink driving offences. These include:

  • 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 loss of licence

Will I go to jail for drink driving if I have committed the offence numerous times?

If you commit the offence of drink driving numerous times, eventually all of the sentencing options the magistrate has will run out. How many times? It will depend on the magistrate that sentences you. Some are tougher than others, and it is possible you receive a sentence of full-time imprisonment on your third offence.

It is important to note that full-time custody is an option of last resort to the court. If the Magistrate takes a view that a term of imprisonment is the only available option, they must then consider whether that term can be served in the community by way of an Intensive Corrections Order, Home Detention or a Suspended Sentence. Other sentencing options include licence disqualification periods, Good Behaviour Bonds and Community Service Orders.

For more information on various drink driving offences and to see case studies on other cases we have appeared in, go to our drink driving page at:



If you have been charged with Drink Driving, call LY Lawyers on 1300 595 299 to speak to one of our experienced traffic lawyers.