It is an offence against s 49C of the Road Safety Act 1986 (RSA) to consume intoxicating liquor while accompanying a learner driver.
49C A person must not consume intoxicating liquor while the person is an accompanying licensed driver.
Penalty: 10 penalty units.
Drink Driving Penalty: Consume intoxicating liquor while an accompanying licensed driver
The penalty for consuming alcohol while accompanying a learner driver is also found in s 49C. You will be liable to a fine of 10 penalty units if you are found to be consuming intoxicating liquor while you are an accompanying licensed driver.
Drink Driving Licence suspension:
Licence suspension upon a charge and finding of guilt for drinking intoxicating liquor while accompanying a learner driver is not mandatory like most other drink driving provisions. While an accompanying driver offence is excluded from mandatory licence disqualification under s 50(6), a Magistrate may suspend your licence and disqualify you from driving at their discretion if they believe the circumstances warrant it.
If you have been charged with consuming intoxicating liquor while accompanying a learner driver, you may also be charged with one of the other accompanying driver offences. Section 3AA(1)(d) deems an accompanying licensed driver to be “in charge of a motor vehicle” even when they are not driving themselves, but accompanying a learner. Therefore, you may contravene a drink driving provision under s 49(1) as if you were the driver.
However, the penalty for an accompanying drink driving offence is different to those normally found under s 49(1). If you are stopped and found to be consuming alcohol while accompanying a learner driver, there is a maximum fine of 10 penalty units applicable, pursuant to s 49C.
Drink Driving Defence Elements:
In order to show that you were drinking intoxicating alcohol while accompanying a learner driver, the police would need to show that you were accompanying the learner (in effect, “in charge of a motor vehicle”) at the time you were consuming intoxicating liquor. The police may either see you drinking, or stop you and determine that you were drinking while accompanying if you have an open bottle in your car.
An indication that you were drinking is a positive reading after a preliminary breath test. The police must allow you 15 minutes from the time of your last drink before they conduct an initial or subsequent preliminary breath test. This allows time for any residual alcohol to leave your mouth and will give an accurate reading. If after this time you still register above the prescribed concentration of alcohol, you may be charged with a drink driving offence under s 49(1), as well as with consuming intoxicating liquor while accompanying as a stand alone offence.
Facing Drink Driving Charges – What to do:
It is unlikely that you will be summonsed to appear in court for consuming intoxicating liquor while accompanying a learner driver. The fine is 10 penalty units, and only 5 penalty units if you offend against one of the s 49(1) drink driving provisions.
If, however, you are charged and summonsed to appear in court, you should contact an experienced traffic lawyer to help you with your case. The circumstances of the offending may be serious enough to warrant a licence disqualification, and you should seek legal advice regarding your options and any possible defences. While disqualification is not mandatory, a Magistrate may still take away your licence. An experienced traffic lawyer may be able to help you stay on the road and avoid any undue fines.