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What are the penalties for drug driving offence in Australia?

Ammy Wilson

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drug driving

When drivers take illicit drugs it can affect them in various ways. It can give the driver false confidence or slow down reaction times, visual distortion, increase crash risk, inability to judge speed, and have a negative impact on road safety putting others at risk.

What is drug driving?

The term ‘Drug Driving’ is used to describe an offence where you drive under the influence of illicit drugs or the presence of illicit drugs in your system which affects your ability to drive safely.

The scenario in Western Australia

Motorists or drivers in Western Australia would probably face new penalties which are tougher if one is found driving under the influence of illicit substances. The state government has announced plans to take strict actions by introducing tougher penalties against the offender. At present, if someone is caught drug driving he or she is supposed to pay a fine of $500 which is the lowest in Australia. However, according to the new rule, the offender would have to pay a minimum of $1250. The government aims to bring WA at par with the rest of the country and also wants to include new offence to prevent someone from driving with drugs or alcohol present in their system. According to a study, the police have carried out more than 40,000 roadside drug tests in 2018 of which 3,845 drivers tested positive for illicit drugs.

The consequence of drug-driving

If you are detected with an illicit drug in your system while driving, this will be considered as a serious drug driving offence irrespective of the quantity that is detected. Police have the right to stop drivers if they suspect them to be under the influence of drugs. Consequently, if you fail to clear or complete a driver assessment test you will be charged with a penalty. In Western, Australia drivers need to undergo roadside drug tests, so that the risk posed by drug drivers is reduced.

The penalties for drug driving in Australia

1. Driving with a prescribed illicit drug in oral fluid or in the system

This crime is committed when a person is caught driving or attempting to drive a vehicle with the presence of illicit drugs in their bloodstream or oral fluid. It is considered as an offence only in the case of prescribed illicit drugs and not any other drug. Tetrahydrocannabinol, methylamphetamine, and MDMA/ecstasy are the prescribed illicit drugs at present.

  • Offence – First

  • Fine-Maximum of 10 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification – Not applicable

  • License disqualification- Not applicable

  • Offence-Second or subsequent

  • Fine-10-20 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-6 months

  • License disqualification-21 days

2. Driving when impaired by drugs

Driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle when impaired by drugs is an offence. Here the level of impairment is less significant. To prove that the person is guilty, the police need to confirm the presence of one or more drugs when the person was driving or attempting to drive. They need to prove that the conduct and appearance are consistent with a person who has consumed drugs and that conduct and appearance is inconsistent with a person who is capable of properly controlling the vehicle. In this case, the police do not need to prove that the person was impaired to such a degree that he or she cannot control a motor vehicle.

  • Offence-First

  • Fine-18-50 penalty units

  • Maximum disqualification-21 days or 3 months if a person fails to comply with conditions under section 66

  • Imprisonment-Not applicable

  • Offence-Second

  • Fine-42-70 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-30 months

  • Imprisonment-Not applicable

  • Imprisonment- 9 months as an alternative to fine

  • Offence-Third

  • Fine-42-100 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-Life

  • Imprisonment-18 months as an alternative to fine

3. Failure to provide blood or urine sample for driver assessment

The offence involves failing to comply with some lawful requirements made by the police. It includes refusing to allow a prescribed sample taker to take a blood sample or urine sample for analysis when driver assessment indicates that a person is drug-impaired.

  • Offence-First

  • Fine-18-50 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-10 months

  • Imprisonment-Not applicable

  • License disqualification-21 days or 3 months if a person fails to comply with conditions under section 67A

  • Offence-Second

  • Fine-42-70 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-30 months

  • Imprisonment-9 months as an alternative to fine

  • License disqualification-4 months

  • Offence-Subsequent

  • Fine-42-100 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-Life

  • Imprisonment-18 months as an alternative to fine

  • License disqualification-4 months

4. Failure to comply with other requirements of the police

The offence includes failing to comply with requirements under sections 66-66E that excludes offences under section 67, 67AA and 67 AB mentioned above. The offences include not providing a sample of breath for analysis, not being present at the place where driver assessment test is to be made, not leaving the vehicle for driver assessment, not undergoing a preliminary fluid test, and not accompanying the police officer for providing a sample of blood or urine.

  • Offence-First

  • Fine-6-16 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-3 months

  • License disqualification-21 days

  • Offence-Second or subsequent

  • Fine-12-28 penalty units

  • Minimum disqualification-6 months

  • License disqualification-21 days

 

If you are charged with drug driving

If you are charged with drug driving, it can have a disastrous effect on your life. It can ruin your employment and international travel chances, provide for your family and caring for your loved ones. You can seek advice from traffic lawyers Perth, as they will examine the case and make sure that the charge has been correctly laid. The lawyers are highly experienced in traffic law providing appropriate legal advice and a legal path ahead. They examine if there is any room for bringing any defence against the charges which may help to lessen the amount of penalty or drop the charge altogether. The Drug Driving Lawyers also appear in court on your behalf for defending your charge, making strong submissions, and also apply for extraordinary licenses. They give you the best advice and representation if you are charged with a drug-driving offence.

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