Criminal Law Matters: Issue 1

Most people now know that you cannot drive a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. However it is not just a motor vehicle which you cannot ‘drive’.

‘Vehicle’ has a much more extended definition under the Road Transport legislation in NSW than one would think. See the NSW Road Rules 2014, Part 2, Division 2, and Rule 15 for the definition of a vehicle which includes not only a motor vehicle, trailer and tram but also an animal drawn vehicle and the animal itself that is being ridden or drawing the vehicle.

A vehicle also includes a motorised wheelchair that can travel at over 10km per hour! And, importantly for my client in a case I recently acted in a bicycle.

So if you were thinking of organising a pub crawl on pushies, think again!

You can be charged by the police with a drink driving offence for riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol. And if you are convicted of that offence there is a minimum disqualification from driving of six (6) months!

The police do not have the power to breath test you (or conduct breath analysis). If you are involved in an accident a blood sample can be taken. However evidence can be given by police in relation to someone’s intoxication (smelling of alcohol, appearance, behaviour).

My client appeared unrepresented in the Local Court. He did not understand the ramifications of drink driving on a bike! He was fined and disqualified from driving for six (6) months.

He came to seek some legal assistance from us and we advised him to appeal the severity of the sentence. He appealed the conviction to the District Court and, although the offence was proven, he was not convicted and the matter was dismissed pursuant to section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act upon him promising to the Court to be good for twelve (12) months (a good behaviour bond). This result was due to his usual good character and also because he had been fined for other related parts of the incident (such as riding the bike negligently!).

So he is still able to drive a car today but he has learnt his lesson and he won’t be drinking and riding ever again!

For all your criminal law matters get Natasha Konic involved.

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Criminal Law Matters: Issue 2