Availability of Defences

A full defence is where you choose to plead not guilty to the charges being laid, to either prove you did not commit the alleged offence or you were not responsible for them in any way. Certain full defences to various driving offences include Duress, Necessity, Emergency, Issue of Identification, Factual Dispute and Honest and Reasonable Mistake (as to the status of your driver’s licence). Note that Honest and Reasonable Mistake is not a defence to drink or drug driving charges in any case whatsoever and the prosecution only have to prove that you were (a) in control or in charge of a motor vehicle; and (b) that you exceeded the prescribed concentration of drugs or alcohol – they do not require any mental awareness of this fact nor intention.

A “partial” defence may be where you submit subjective material or circumstances during a guilty plea which provide either some explanation for the offence, or the associated behaviour, and sometimes will be considered in mitigation of the penalty to be imposed.

In Victoria, partial defences do not exist for any drink or drug driving charges, and mitigating circumstances cannot be taken into account when deciding if a suspension is to be given as the Magistrates’ are bound by mandatory minimums and must order your licence be disqualified if you are proven guilty. Subjective circumstances may assist in the amount of the fine given however, whether the Magistrate does not impose more than the minimum disqualification, and whether or not the Magistrate chooses to impose a conviction or not.