New drink and drug driving penalties in NSW


Driving in Australia

In effect from 20 May 2019, new penalties apply for people in NSW caught driving over the legal limit or driving with the presence of an illicit drug in their system.

Even if it is your first offence, if you’re driving above the legal blood alcohol limit or on-the-spot tests show the presence of illicit drugs, your licence will be suspended and you’ll be required to hand it to Police immediately. An immediate suspension is effective for three months, along with an on-the-spot fine of $561.

Among the other changes to the NSW drink and drug driving penalties are new alcohol interlock laws (an electronic breath testing device connected to the ignition of a vehicle) for mid-range offenders and vehicle sanctions for high-risk drink drivers.

Blood alcohol limits for drivers

Zero for:

  • Learner drivers or riders
  • Provisional 1 drivers or riders
  • Provisional 2 drivers or riders
  • Visiting drivers or riders holding an overseas or interstate learner, provisional or equivalent licence

Under 0.02 (equivalent to approximately one standard drink) for:

  • Drivers of vehicles of "gross vehicle mass" greater than 13.9 tonnes
  • Drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods
  • Drivers of public vehicles such as taxi or bus drivers
Transport for NSW advises, “Drivers subject to a 0.02 limit should not drink any alcohol before driving”.

Under 0.05 is the legal limit for most drivers.

Do you know what a standard drink looks like?

Test your knowledge with the Standard Drink Calculator

Alcohol concentrations vary between drinks and can affects people differently according to their size, weight, gender, liver function and overall fitness, therefore it’s not always possible to accurately calculate your blood alcohol concentration. Alcohol concentration can also continue to increase for up to two hours after you have stopped drinking. Meaning its best to not drink alcohol (or take any drugs) if you plan to drive.

The NSW Government’s priority is to reduce road fatalities by 30 per cent by 2021. The new penalties announced this week are designed to deter drivers from putting themselves and others at risk of harm or death.

Getting help

Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Alcohol Risk Assessment. You can also get free one-on-one personal health coaching and support to reduce alcohol consumption by accessing the NSW Health Get Healthy service.

For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs 24 hours, 7 days a week, call the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015.

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