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Can I Avoid a Criminal Record for Drink/Drug Driving Offences?

If you are found guilty of a drink/drug driving offence, it will unfortunately go on your criminal record. There are some cases, however, where this can be avoided

Author: Tom Ellicott 

17 January 2023

Drink driving or driving under the influence of a banned substance, is a criminal offence in New South Wales. This means that if you are found guilty of a drink/drug driving offence, it will unfortunately go on your criminal record. There are some cases, however, where this can be avoided.

If you’ve committed a drink/drug driving offence, the right criminal defence lawyer can guide you through the process. At Access Law Group, we can help clients in Sydney, Wollongong and Camden minimise the impact of the charge wherever possible. Below, we look at some of the relevant factors.

Avoiding a Criminal Record

If you’ve been charged with a drink/drug driving offence, the only way to avoid this going onto your criminal record is to be found ‘not guilty’, meaning the police will agree to withdraw the charge or the magistrate decides you did not commit the offence at all.

If you are found guilty, the offence will be recorded on the criminal record. How long this is disclosed on a criminal record check will depend on the severity of the offence and the penalty imposed by the magistrate.

Spent Conviction

In many cases, a drink/drug driving conviction becomes ‘spent’ after the person completes a 10-year crime-free period. Once a conviction becomes ‘spent’ it will usually not be disclosed on a criminal record check anymore. This means if a prospective employer asks for a criminal record check, your spent driving conviction shouldn’t turn up on it. You typically also won’t be required to disclose a spent conviction if asked about your criminal history.

Disclosure Exceptions

Keep in mind there are some exceptions to when spent convictions will still be disclosed. This includes:

  • Applying for employment or appointment as a teacher, police officer, judge, magistrate, justice of the peace, member of staff of Corrective Services NSW, the Office of Sheriff, Department of Communities and Justice.
  • When applying for a Working With Children Check or clearance under the NDIS workers check.
  • If you are involved in another proceeding before a court, e.g., if you are being sentenced for a new offence or if you are a witness in a case.

If having a conviction on your record is a particular concern, discuss this with your drink driving or drug offence lawyers before your case goes to court. They can determine the possibility of avoiding a criminal record in your unique case.

Section 10 or Non-Conviction

A ‘section 10’ or ‘non-conviction’ is where the magistrate finds the person guilty but doesn’t ‘record a conviction’. The phrasing of this can cause confusion and creates the impression that the case is wiped from the person’s record entirely. This is not the case. The offence will still go on your criminal record but becomes ‘spent’ immediately (or if a good behaviour bond is also imposed it becomes spent at the end of the bond period).

Drink Driving Lawyer in Wollongong, Camden and Sydney

At Access Law Group, our criminal defence lawyer team includes specialists in drink driving, family violence, traffic offence, drug offence lawyers and more, who can provide legal advice and representation. For criminal defence legal services in Wollongong, Camden and Sydney, call our team today on 02 4220 7100 or contact us online.