Drinking and driving in NSW

Responsible service of AlcoholLicensees and RSA staff have a responsibility to provide safe transport options to their customers such as a courtesy bus, access to taxis and the encouragement of a designated driver. It is important to note that while a patron is impaired at .05, and should not drive a motor vehicle, it does not mean that the patron will necessarily show signs of intoxication.

For most drivers in NSW, the law says that they must stay under the national legal limit in Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .05.

There are some important exceptions though, where the limit is zero for L and P plate drivers, drivers under 25 for the first three years of driving, and for drivers of heavy vehicles, passenger vehicles and dangerous goods vehicles.

The only way to be certain of staying under .05 BAC is not to drink any alcohol at all. However, if you plan to

drive after drinking alcohol it is important to count your alcohol consumption in terms of standard drinks. In this way, you can estimate how much alcohol you have consumed. Remember that individual differences can affect a person’s susceptibility to alcohol, so there is no guarantee that drink counting will be an accurate measure of BAC or intoxication.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Use the rule of thumb to work out how many standard drinks you can have over the time you will be drinking and be likely to remain within the legal limit to drive (remember that any drink which contains about 10 grams of alcohol is called a standard drink)

  • Learn how many standard drinks are contained in the glass, bottle or can from which you are drinking

  • Drink slowly and alternate your drinks with non-alcoholic drinks

  • Have something to eat when you are drinking

  • Always finish your glass before filling up again to help you to keep a count of your drinks

  • Drink light beer rather than full-strength beer if you expect to be driving

  • Don’t mix drinks like cocktails if you are driving, because you often cannot tell how much alcohol they contain

  • Test yourself on a Standards Australia-approved breath test machine to monitor how different amounts of alcohol affect your BAC level

  • Before driving, wait at least one hour for each standard drink consumed

Remember, alcohol also affects pedestrians as well as drivers and that alcohol-related road deaths and injuries have been serious community concerns for many years. Traffic laws have been modified and special programs have been developed by road safety authorities in an attempt to solve the problem, but drink driving still remains a major cause of death and injury on our roads. RSA staff must contribute to a safer community by serving alcohol responsibly.