Concerns have been raised over new, "draconian" laws aimed at low range drink drivers.
As of May 20, anyone caught drinkdriving in NSW at any level, including low-range, can lose their licence immediately and face a $561 fine, with infringement notices issued to first time low-range offenders meaning they can avoid facing a court altogether.
In 2018 there were 68 alcohol related fatalities on NSW roads. Of these, 12 were from crashes where the highest blood alcohol content was less than 0.08.
This included seven deaths from crashes which involved a driver or rider with a low range BAC between 0.05 and 0.079, and five deaths from crashes involving a P-plate licence holder with a BAC between 0.001 and 0.019.
Wagga resident Bruce Harper said while most support penalties for hopelessly drunk drivers who are a risk to everyone, he questions the evidence backing this reform.
"Without an independently sourced study to prove a connection between low range alcohol levels and crashes, this draconian legislation cannot be justified and will have no effect on the road toll," he said.
"It's easy to stand on the high moral ground and say 'it's no problem if you don't drink and drive', but how many of us can honestly say we haven't, believing that we are below .05," he said.
"If the difference between .049 per cent and .05 per cent is all there is between this penalty and no penalty, we need to be provided with the means to determine our blood alcohol level before driving.
"How will a hefty fine, and worse, the loss of a licence for three months, assist the road safety cause? Has the minister aligned the cause of a large number of crashes with low range drink driving?"
Mr Harper said the cost to the livelihoods and well-being of many people needs to be clearly demonstrated to be a justifiable step to take.
"The minister has not done this," he said.
President of the Law Society of NSW, Elizabeth Espinosa, said the organisation does not support the new laws.
"We are particularly concerned that the effect of the 'drink driving is a crime' campaign will be diluted if low-range PCA offences are dealt with by penalty notices rather than by the courts," she said.
"There is also a genuine deterrent factor for first-time low-range PCA offenders in going to court.
"The experience, and shame, of having to appear before a Magistrate, undertake a traffic offender program, and be warned of the consequences of further offending may well have a significantly greater deterrent effect on future offending than a penalty notice, fine and suspension."
Ms Espinosa said she believes the new laws will have an adverse effect.
"We are of the view that the reforms will, increase offence and recidivism rates, and have a significant impact on people's livelihoods - particularly those living in regional and remote areas that lack public transport options and where courts sit on a part-time basis," she said.
"Currently low-range PCA offences account for only 1.9 per cent of all Local Court matters, however, despite being designed to reduce the pressure on the Local Court, these new laws may in fact have the opposite effect as it is likely that there will be a significant increase in urgent applications for appeals against the licence suspension, resulting in two hearings rather than one."
Bernard Carlon, executive director of the Centre for Road Safety, said there is firm evidence that the risk of a road crash escalates as blood alcohol content increases.
"However, this does not mean that driving with lower levels of alcohol is safe," he said.
"A driver with a blood alcohol concentration in the low range blood alcohol content, from 0.05, up to 0.079 - are two to four times as likely to be involved in a casualty crash compared to a sober driver.
The 0.05 blood alcohol limit has been in place for 38 years, and most drivers do the right thing. More than 99 per cent of drivers who had random breath testing on NSW roads last year were under the limit."
Mr Carlon said strong penalties for any offence serve to deter, as well as emphasise the need to completely separate drinking from driving.
"The safest option, from both a crash and legal perspective, is not to drink before driving, always have a Plan B if you intend to drink," he said.
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