Tough new drink driving laws are a wake up call

NSW Police - random breath test
NSW Police - RBT

Since May 2019, low range drink driving offenders can now immediately lose their licence. 


Certain penalties will apply to drivers who commit a first-time, lower-range drink-driving offence (which can include low, special and novice range drink-driving offences).

Drivers who commit a lower-range drink-driving offence for the first time will have their licence suspended immediately, effective for three months. This will be coupled with a significant fine of $561. The same applies for drug driving.

  • Low range PCA: blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to less than 0.08
  • Novice range PCA: blood alcohol concentration more than zero for learner, P1 or P2 driver
  • Special range PCA: blood alcohol concentration over 0.02 for special category drivers (taxi drivers, bus drivers, drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods).

These drink driving reforms passed NSW Parliament in September last year and we recently surveyed our Members about these penalties.


Our survey found that over two-thirds of people support this new law. Support is even higher (76%) in regional areas. Over 700 participants responded to questions about the new drink driving reforms. 

“Far too many people were caught drink driving and were getting off with little more than a slap on the wrist. These new rules reflect the community’s attitudes towards the dangers of drink and drug driving,” says the NRMA's Dimitra Vlahomitros. 

Under the new laws, simpler and more certain penalties will also apply for drug drivers. Offenders who drive with the presence of illicit drugs for the first time will receive a $561 fine and a three month licence suspension if the offence is confirmed by laboratory analysis.

In 2018, 64 people lost their lives on NSW roads due to an alcohol-related crash with 52 lives lost on country roads.

Assistant Police Commissioner Michael Corboy said this reform will protect all road users by ensuring swift and certain penalties.

“Alcohol is one of the major factors in crashes that kill or injure people on NSW roads. The 0.05 blood alcohol limit has been in place for almost 38 years. There are no more excuses,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.

The NRMA recently released Still Smashed prior to last year's Christmas party season to remind revellers of the risk of drink driving. The report found that almost one-quarter (23%) of drinkers believed they were still over the legal limit the next morning and an alarming one-in-four (27%) of those still got behind the wheel.

It’s been over 40 years since the NRMA launched the state’s first ever education campaign to tackle drink driving and there is still a lot of work to be done to save lives.