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ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
One in five fatal crashes in NSW involves
drink driving. Between 2008 and 2016,
there were 577 fatalities involving drivers
with an illegal alcohol limit, which is 17
per cent of all fatalities during this period.
Most drunk drivers are men, and most are
under the age of 40.
The rules concerning driving under
the influence of alcohol include:
Learner drivers and Provisional
(P1 and P2) drivers have a zero blood
alcohol concentration limit.
Full licence drivers of cars or riders of
motorcycles must have a blood alcohol
concentration under 0.05.
It’s illegal to drink alcohol while driving
even if your blood alcohol stays below
the legal limit.
If police suspect you’re driving while
impaired by drugs, you’ll be taken to a
hospital to have blood and urine samples
taken and tested for drugs in your system.
There are heavy penalties for driving with
a blood alcohol concentration on or over the
limit. High-range drink driving penalties
(0.15 or above) include fines of up to $3300,
a prison term of up to 18 months, 12 months
licence disqualification as well as immediate
roadside licence suspension.
For serial high-range drink drivers, a
court will impose an interlock system – an
electronic breath testing device linked to
the ignition systems of cars, motorcycles
and heavy vehicles. This checks for the
presence of alcohol in the driver and the
vehicle will only start if a breath test is
negative for alcohol.
Cannabis, speed/ice, MDMA/ecstasy,
cocaine, and morphine (unless proven for
medicinal use) can now be tested for and
drivers can be fined up to $1100 for first
offences, or could be disqualified for three
months or up to six months.
According to Roads and Maritime
Services (RMS), research suggests that
at least 14 per cent of fatal accidents and
one in 10 fatalities are caused by drivers
Texting and talking on a mobile phone are
the most obvious distractions, especially
amongst younger drivers, but are illegal for
all age groups and dangerous for both the
texting driver and motorists around them.
The law is that you must not use any
function of a mobile phone while driving a
vehicle or riding a motorcycle, including
when stopped at traffic lights or stuck in
traffic. This includes phones in hands-free
mode or with the loudspeaker operating, or
sending text messages. When driving, you
cannot use your mobile phone for:
Phoning (unless the phone is in a
Texting or audio texting
Using social media
If you want to use your phone for these
functions, your car must be parked out of
the line of traffic.
However, there are other distractions
that can be just as dangerous as mobile
phone use. These include fiddling with a
sound system or GPS navigation, talking to
passengers, eating and drinking, or lighting
a cigarette. All of these behaviours take
your attention away from the road and
mean you’re more likely to make a mistake
that results in injury or death.
A driver using a mobile phone when not
permitted can receive a $330 fine and
four demerit points.
In recent years there has been a police
crackdown on ‘hoonish’ behaviour and
dangerous practices such as street racing,
burnouts, engaging in a police pursuit and
speeding by more than 45km/h.
Drivers who treat NSW roads as their own
personal race track face heavy fines, licence
suspension and having either their vehicle
impounded or number plate confiscated
for three months.
The maximum court imposed fine for
an ’aggravated’ burnout first offence is
$3300 and an automatic 12-month licence
disqualification. Things get even more
serious for those involved in a police
pursuit, with a maximum three years
imprisonment and three-year automatic
disqualification for a first offence.
It’s not only drivers who face penalties.
The aggravated burnout offence can also be
applied to those who willingly participate in,
urge others to participate in, or photograph
or film to promote hoon activity.
Cars owned by repeat offenders can be
forfeited to the Crown. Usually, these
vehicles are sold and the money is used to
recover storage and collection costs.
However, the laws also allow certain
forfeited vehicles to be released to RMS for
crash testing. These tests can investigate
the potential effects of modifications on
the overall crashworthiness of these
vehicles, which is the degree of protection
they provide for occupants. The wrecks
of these vehicles will be displayed at
education days for young drivers, or
at other RMS presentations.
Does a particular road rule or other
drivers’ disregard for it annoy you? Write
in and tell us why. A selection of your
opinions will be printed in our next issue.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or
send to Open Road, 9 Murray Rose Ave,
Sydney Olympic Park, NSW 2127
OPEN ROAD 45
OR0518_MOT_Road rules.indd 45
16/4/18 2:14 pm
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