How to Challenge a Low Range PCA Reading

traffic law

Drinking and driving is often thought to be a trivial offence, but here in Australia, the law takes drinking and driving very seriously. Even if you are a first-time offender and are charged with driving under the influence, you are facing a criminal conviction, up to one year of having your license revoked, and a hefty fine.

The common belief is that these charges cannot be fought and won, but that is not the case. When partnered with a criminal defence attorney who is experienced in defending those accused of drinking and driving, defendants can have their penalty and fines reduced. He or she may even be able to have the case completely dismissed under Section 10.

What is a Low Range PCA?

Those who are accused of having a low range Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) will have taken a breath test which shows a blood alcohol reading between 0.05 and 0.08. While this is the lowest PCA charge, those who plead guilty to a low range PCA charge face the following penalties:

  • Fines between $1100 to $2200;
  • Losing your license for up to one year.

How Can I Challenge the Charge?

Challenging a low-range PCA charge is no easy feat, but depending on your circumstances, it can be done.

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The Reliability of the Alcohol Meters

The alcohol meters which are used to measure your PCA are usually well maintained, but attorneys have been able to prove that particular devices are faulty and have returned a false reading. It may also be possible to prove that the reading which the alcohol meter produced was not the same reading that you had at the time of driving. This is important, as the PCA charge is all about the prescribed concentration of alcohol in your system while you were driving and not while you were sitting at home or waiting at the police station to take a secondary test.

Enlist the Help of a Pharmacologist

Attorneys who regularly help defendants challenge PCA readings may be able to retain an expert (a pharmacologist) who can calculate your likely blood alcohol level when you were driving. Some pieces of information the pharmacologist will need from you include:

  • The number of drinks consumed and the alcoholic content of those drinks;
  • When the drinks were consumed;
  • How much food was ingested;
  • Your physical features;
  • Any medical problems or medications being taken at the time.

Establishing a Time Line

An attorney will also help you build a timeline indicating the time from when you last drove your car or had a drink to when you were asked to take the breath test. In Australia, there is a two-hour rule, meaning that a police officer cannot make you do a breath test if you have not operated a vehicle within two hours of their request. If more than two hours have elapsed, and you have been tested, any evidence of a low-range PCA will be thrown out.