Throughout Australia a national, uniform, Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit of 0.05% has been in place for over 25 years for drivers on a full licence.
Despite this, recent research by Queensland University of Technology shows that drink driving is still the major contributor of fatalities and injuries on Australian roads.
Further, QUT studies also reveal that drug driving is now recognised as a significant contributing factor in more than 7% of road fatalities across the country and there are now new drug driving tests in place.
If you’re a new driver, you need to know what the legal limits are for drugs and alcohol on the roads.
How much can I drink?
BAC is a measure of the level of alcohol in your body. It’s illegal to drive with a BAC of more than 0.05%.
In general terms, to stay under the BAC limit, males can drink no more than 2 standard drinks in the first hour (10g of alcohol in each) followed by 1 standard drink every hour after that, with females drinking no more than 1 standard drink every hour (10g of alcohol in each).
However these are guidelines only as your blood alcohol level can be affected by other factors such as body size, age, fitness, and health.
Learner and Provisional drivers have a 0.00% BAC which means you can’t have even one drink if you’re one of these drivers.
What if I'm stopped by the police?
Police can stop you and conduct a random breath or drug test at any time.
If you test 0.05% or more for alcohol (or 0.00% if you’re an L or P-plater), or positive for illegal drugs, your licence will be suspended immediately for the next 24 hours, which means you cannot drive within that period.
After that you can drive, until the matter has been resolved by the court, where you may have your license suspended for a longer period and also may be fined.
If you’re involved in an accident and you test positive for drugs or are over the limit for alcohol you may not be covered by your insurance.
Higher range offences
For drink driving offences where your BAC is 0.10% or more, or you refuse a breath test, don’t allow a blood sample to be taken, or if you commit a second offence while a drink driving charge is still before the court, your licence will be suspended immediately and indefinitely.
Drugs and driving
Drug driving legislation has recently been introduced across all States and Territories in Australia.
Driving with even the smallest presence of drugs in your blood, urine or saliva is an offence that incurs penalties of a fine, loss of licence and the potential of not being covered by your insurance.
Police conduct random drug testing via a simple saliva test and do not have to prove that having a drug in your system means you can’t drive safely or that you are driving less safely, which means that if you’re not zero you’re breaking the law.
Tips for staying safe
The best advice is don’t drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Remember that the drug tests can show a positive result, even after some days.