If you or someone you know has been charged with drink driving which is being dealt with in the Magistrates Court and you’re planning on pleading guilty, then you may like to read on.
First and foremost, changes came into effect from 1 July 2021 which saw many penalties for drink driving significantly increase. For example, the minimum fine for high range (above 0.15) drink driving on a first offence increased from $900 to $1,700. The maximum fine for the same offence went from $2,500 up to $3,750. Certain offences have also seen increases to periods of licence disqualification. In light of these changes, obtaining advice about your situation before going to Court is likely now even more important.
If you intend to enter a guilty plea then you should note that a discount of up to 25% on the sentence can be available for an early guilty plea. In other words, the earlier you plead guilty the more likely you are to receive a 25% discount. If you’re in line for a possible period of imprisonment (whether suspended or immediate) or a hefty fine, then this becomes very important and even more so if you are on a charge for a second or subsequent offence.
If you plead guilty (or are found guilty at a trial), then once your guilty plea has been entered you will be sentenced. This may be done immediately following your plea of guilty on the same Court date, or it may be at a later (adjourned) Court date. There are reasons why an adjournment to a later sentencing date may occur or be sensibly sought. These include, for example the Court wanting to obtain a pre-sentence report about you or you reasonably needing more time to obtain documents which may support a plea in mitigation on your behalf.
It is also often helpful at your sentencing if you have obtained one or two good quality character references. These references need to be addressed to ‘The Presiding Magistrate’ at the Court registry hearing the matter and identify that the person providing the reference is aware of the charge/s against you. They should set-out that (hopefully) you are of otherwise good character and that the person believes you will not make the same mistake again (ie you will not reoffend). It is advisable to have references from people who have known you for a long time and who can vouch for you.
Depending upon the nature of the charge/s, it may also be appropriate to engage in programs such as drug and alcohol counselling. Voluntary engagement in programs coupled with positive progress reports from the providers can assist mitigate a sentence in some instances. In any event, it shows a willingness to address your behaviours which may have contributed to the offending and this will not go unnoticed by a Magistrate.
Now, if you’ve read this far and concluded that you may actually need someone in your corner for your sentencing, then now is probably the time to obtain some practical advice. Austral Legal can help and we offer an initial discounted 30-minute SmartMove appointment for $80 (by phone or in person). Bookings can be made online through our website (it’s that easy) and as you can probably tell, we like helping people out.