‘Four Angels Law’ – New Drink and Drug Driving Offences in NSW

The NSW Parliament has recently passed legislation enacting harsh new penalties for combined drink and drug driving offences.

The ‘Four Angels Law’ was tabled by the NSW State Parliament in response to the tragic death of four children (Anthony, Angelina, and Sienna Abdulla, and Veronique Sakr) who were killed when a drunk driver mounted the footpath in February 2020. The driver was more than three times over the alcohol limit and under the influence of drugs. The tragic death of the four children initiated a review of traffic law in NSW.

“This new law sends a clear message to the community that this high-risk behaviour will not be tolerated. It’s designed to act as a greater deterrence to drivers so that we don’t have to see families like the Abdallah’s and Sakrs experience such tragedy,” said Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport and Roads.

The Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Drink and Drug Driving Offence) Bill 2021 will amend the Road Transport Act 2013 and introduce combined alcohol and drug driving offences.

A new category of offences:

The Act introduces the new category of offences, being combined alcohol and drug driving offences. These are:

  1. Driving with a high range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) and the presence of a prescribed illicit drug
  2. Driving with a middle range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) and the presence of a prescribed illicit drug;
  3. Driving with a novice, special or low range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) offence and the presence of a prescribed illicit drug (Note: this charge is only applicable if the driver has been convicted of one of the above offences in the past five years).

Tough new penalties:

The new offences carry unprecedented penalties for drivers caught with alcohol and drugs in their system, including larger fines, longer licence disqualifications and periods of imprisonment.

The maximum penalties for the offences are as follows:

High range PCA and presence of prescribed illicit drug (first offence):

  • Fine: $5500 (50 penalty units)
  • Imprisonment for 2 years
  • Licence disqualification with interlock period: 6 to 9 months
  • Required interlock period: 24 months
  • Licence disqualification without interlock period: 18 months to 4 years

High range PCA and presence of prescribed illicit drug (second offence in five years):

  • Fine: $11,000 (100 penalty units)
  • Imprisonment for 2 years
  • Licence disqualification with interlock period: 9 to 12 months
  • Required interlock period: 48 months
  • Licence disqualification without interlock period: 3 to 6 years

Middle range PCA and presence of prescribed illicit drug (first offence):

  • Fine: $3300 (30 penalty units)
  • Imprisonment for 18 months
  • Licence disqualification with interlock period: 3 to 6 months
  • Required interlock period: 12 months
  • Licence disqualification without interlock period: 12 months to 2 years

Middle range PCA and presence of prescribed illicit drug (second offence in five years):

  • Fine: $6600 (60 penalty units)
  • Imprisonment for 2 years
  • Licence disqualification with interlock period: 6 to 9 months
  • Required interlock period: 24 months
  • Licence disqualification without interlock period: 2 years to 4 years

Second or subsequent offence of combined alcohol and drug driving offence (low range, novice range or special range):

  • Fine: $5500 (50 penalty units)
  • Imprisonment for 18 months
  • Licence disqualification with interlock period: 1 to 3 months
  • Required interlock period: 12 months
  • Licence disqualification without interlock period: 18 months to 2 years

Interlock devices:

An interlock device is an electronic breath testing device that is mandatory for most drink driving charges in NSW. There are some limited exceptions where a court may grant an interlock exemption order.

Interlock devices allow offenders to return to driving earlier than if they were convicted of the same office and faced the automatic suspension period. Drivers on an interlock licence can only drive vehicles fitted with an interlock device.

Need a lawyer?

Have you or a loved one been charged with a PCA or drug driving offence? Give our team of experienced lawyers a call on 02 4454 5003 for a free initial consultation.