The Traffic Offenders Program: Will it help my drink driving case?
Have you or a loved one been charged with a drink driving offence?
Under s 9 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (NSW) (the Act), “it is an offence for individuals with a prescribed blood alcohol concentration to: drive; attempt to drive; or occupy the seat next to the holder of a learner licence who is driving a vehicle.”
If you have been charged with drink driving you may face a monetary fine, a minimum disqualification of your licence and possible imprisonment depending on the type of drink driving offence you have been charged with.
The Act identifies four categories of PCA offences. The type of penalty you face depends on the degree by which you exceed your blood alcohol concentration level and prior traffic history. PCA offence categories range from low, middle and high ranges.
For example, the maximum penalties for a first-time low-range PCA offences are:
A maximum fine of $1,100; and
An automatic six months disqualification from driving, with a discretion for the court to reduce to 3 months disqualification (upon conviction).
If you have been charged with a drink driving offence you have a choice to participate in a Traffic Offenders Program through a ‘Program Participation order’ either by your lawyer, or through an order of the sentencing court.
What is the Traffic Offenders program (TOIP)?
The Traffic Offenders Program or Traffic Offenders Rehabilitation Program (TORP) is a six to eight week court approved road safety education program designed specifically for un-sentenced offenders who have been found guilty or pleaded guilty of a traffic offence in NSW local courts. The program is regulated under Part 8 of the Criminal Procedure Regulation 2010.
Generally if you are required to appear before a court for a drink driving or drug driving offence, you have the option of participating in the traffic offenders program.
The goal of the program is to provide participants with the information and skills necessary to develop safer driving behaviours. Attending a TOIP program reduces the likelihood of the participant from reoffending because it promotes awareness of the major road safety issues.
Will attending a Traffic Offenders Program help my drink driving case?
If you successfully complete the Traffic Offenders Program an attendance record/achievement report will be given to the magistrate. He or she often takes into consideration participation in the program when determining sentencing.
Do I need to do the program to get a “Section 10?”
In the vast majority of drink driving cases, participating in the traffic offenders program is a must if you want to avoid a criminal conviction, avoid a licence disqualification and fine…also known as a “Section 10 No conviction”.
Participating in the program will also assist in reducing the fine and/or period of disqualification or suspension.
What types of questions will I be asked in the traffic offenders program?
In you are attending a Traffic Offenders Program, the types of questions you will be asked in your weekly assignments depend on the course you are in. They range from questions about how alcohol and drugs affect driving, road safety, victim impact, to legal penalties and blood alcohol limits while driving. At the end of the program a report will be given to the magistrate. If the report is unfavourable it could adversely affect your sentencing.
Below are a few sample questions from the program:
1.“What are the three blood alcohol limits concerning drivers in NSW?
– 0.0 Learner Drivers
– 0.02 Drivers of Public Vehicles
– 0.05 General License Holders
2. What is the likely penalty for a person who is convicted of dangerous driving occasioning death?
Not less than 3 years imprisonment
3. What should you do once your disqualification period has expired?
Go to the RTA (do not drive there) and apply for another license.”
There are more than 50 Traffic Offenders’ Programs in NSW. For an updated register of program providers click here.
Your criminal defence lawyer in Sydney will be able to assist you in registering into the traffic offenders program nearest to your place of residence, or where most convenient for you.
Call LY Lawyers if you need some friendly advice about the program, 1300 595 299.