Understand DUI Laws and Penalties

a cop holding a breathalizer

In Australia and many other countries, law enforcement officers can set up ‘sobriety checkpoints’ to catch drunk drivers. They can stop every vehicle and make DUI/DWI arrests. Officers often set up these checkpoints very late at night (or early morning) on the weekends. You should expect these sobriety checkpoints near the exit points of night-life events or sporting events. This may seem tedious, but it is a great way for the police to prevent lots of drunk drivers on the road.

If you are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, you’ll have to take an alcoholic breath test. If your blood alcohol is equal to or greater than 0.05%, you will have to wait for 15 minutes and then get retested. Random breath tests (RBTs) are not always ‘pass-or-fail’; an officer can deem whether or not you are intoxicated enough for an arrest.


DUI stands for ‘driving under the influence’, but DWI stands for ‘driving while intoxicated’. These terms can be synonymous, but DWI usually refers to the effects of alcohol while DUI could be alcohol or drugs. Sometimes people with higher blood alcohol levels get a DWI, while a DUI usually carries a lesser punishment.


Even if you do not appear intoxicated, you can still be arrested if you record a 0.8 or greater on the ‘blood alcohol content’ (BAC). If it is your first offence, the judge may go easier on you. If you are convicted, you may be subject to fines, community service or a suspended driver’s licence.


Australia’s laws are very strict concerning DUIs. Some people may suffer severe penalties like prison or a long-term licence suspension (3+ years). You may have to go to a driving school before you get your licence back. If this is becoming a serious problem, I’d recommend seeing a counsellor or a support group.