Lawyers critical of new drink drive laws which begin May 20

Concerns have been raised over new laws aimed at low-range drink-drivers.

As of May 20, anyone caught drink-driving in NSW at any level, including low-range, can lose their licence immediately and face a $561 fine.

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.

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.

"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," 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.

"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."