Click To Call

Drug Driving Lawyer

Drug driving is a serious offence and if you have been charged you need the advice of an experienced drug driving lawyer.

There is zero tolerance for the presence of drugs in your saliva or blood. Proving whether you are able to drive safely or not while drugs are present has no bearing on a drug driving charge. Drugs can be detected long after you use them and although you may not feel that you are adversely affected, it is considered that you cannot drive safely, or that you are driving less safely, no matter what level of the following drugs are in your system:

  • Cannabis (THC)
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Methamphetamine (speed, ice, crystal meth)
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin; and
  • prescription or over the counter drugs (that causing driving to be adversely affected or impaired).

Roadside Drug Testing

Police have the power to perform roadside drug testing, like stopping you for a random breath test for alcohol.  A roadside drug test involves an officer asking a driver to provide a sample of their saliva which is then analysed while the driver waits a few minutes.  If a driver returns a positive result, police will ask the driver to take a further test and if that is also positive, it is sent to a laboratory for confirmation.  The results that come back from the lab are what are used as the grounds for the drug driving charge.

Under the Influence or Impairment of a Drug

Where the driver is more noticeably affected by drugs and is not able to control a vehicle properly the driver may be required to give blood or urine samples.  Police will perform an assessment of physical factors such as balance, coordination and general behaviour.  If the driver is impaired or under the influence of drugs the charge is usually more serious than if a drug has simply been detected.

Refusal To Give A Sample

It is also an offence to refuse to provide police with a sample of blood, saliva or urine when requested to do so.  You can still be charged with drug driving even if you refuse to give a sample and the penalties for refusal offences are often harsher.

You Need The Advice of an Experienced Drug Driving Lawyer

If you have been charged with a drug driving offence, to have the best opportunity to avoid conviction and possible imprisonment you should seek professional legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible.  Some of your options will have time limits.  A legal representative will provide you with the best course of action to achieve the desired outcome.

Drug driving laws are different between the states and the process and options available differ depending on where the offence took place.

There are two different drug driving charges in QLD:

Driving while a drug is present – the drug is present in the blood or saliva routinely detected by roadside drug testing.  Upon conviction your licence will be disqualified for a period of 1-9 months and you will also likely be fined up to $1,868 or a term of imprisonment up to 3 months could be imposed.

Driving under the influence of a drug – this is a more serious charge as the offender is usually more noticeably affected by drugs in the circumstances.  Effectively this is the same offence as high range drink driving therefore increased disqualification periods and fines along with the possibility of imprisonment apply.

OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum fine amountMaximum term of imprisonment
First Offence Minimum of 6 months $3,736 9 months
Subsequent Offence up to 2 years $8,007 determined by the court

You may be eligible to apply for a work licence in Queensland.

Similar to Queensland there are two different drug driving charges.  The minimum licence disqualification periods can only be obtained through a special court order.

Driving with an illicit drug present in oral fluid, blood or urine

OffenceLicence disqualificationAutomatic disqualification periodMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonment
First offence* 3-6 months 6 months $3,300 N/A
Second or subsequent offence 6 months - unlimited 12 months $5,500 N/A

*may be issued with a penalty notice - in this instance the fine is $572 and a 3 month licence suspension if dealt with through the penalty notice

Driving under the influence of a drug

OffenceLicence disqualificationAutomatic disqualification periodMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonment
First offence 12 months - unlimited 3 years $2,200 18 months
Second or subsequent offence 2 years - unlimited 5 years $3,300 2 years

If convicted, an automatic licence suspension applies as well as mandatory fines.  Work licences are not available in NSW.  Imprisonment is also a possibility in more serious cases.  You may be eligible to submit a Section 10 requesting the court to not record a conviction on a guilty plea.

The drug driving offences that can be charged in Victoria are again penalised in two main categories similar to the other states.  If convicted, you will also be required to undertake a drug driver education program.

Exceeding Prescribed Concentration of Drugs – the oral fluid sample of the driver contains an illicit substance.

OffenceLicence disqualificationFine amountPossible imprisonmentPotential conviction recorded
First offence - Traffic Infringement Notice 6 months suspension $495 N N
First offence - required to attend court minimum 6 months cancellation $1,982 N Y
Second drug-driving offence minimum 12 months cancellation $9,913 N Y
More than two drug-driving offences minimum 12 months cancellation $19,826 N Y

Driving while impaired by drugs – determined by an impairment assessment and a blood sample and a certificate of drug effect is provided by an approved expert.

OffenceLicence disqualificationFine amountPossible imprisonmentPotential conviction recorded
First drug-driving offence minimum 12 months cancellation $1,982 N Y
Second drug-driving offence minimum 2 years cancellation $19,826 Y Y
More than two drug-driving offences minimum 2 years cancellation $29,739 Y Y

There are no work licences available in Victoria, neither are diversions an option due to the fixed penalties in relation to drink driving offences.

If you are charged with a drug driving offence in South Australia mandatory licence disqualification periods apply.  If you are issued with an expiration notice and you pay the fine you will be unable to appeal against the disqualification period, please seek legal advice if you need clarification as penalties in South Australia are severe.

Driving with prescribed drug in oral fluid or blood
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonmentDemerit points
First offence* 6 months - unlimited $1,300 N/A 4
Second 12 months - unlimited $1,600 N/A 4
Third or subsequent offence 2 years - unlimited $2,200 N/A 4

*may be issued with a expiation notice - in this instance the fine is $743, 3 months licence disqualification and 4 demerit points if dealt with through the penalty notice

Driving under the influence of a drug
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonmentDemerit points
First offence 12 months - unlimited $1,600 3 months 6
Second or subsequent offence 3 years - unlimited $2,900 6 months 6

In South Australia penalties for drug driving include demerit points.  This can complicate matters for drivers that exceed their points limit as a result of their drink driving offence, additional periods of licence suspension will be imposed.  Work licences are not available in South Australia.  There are limited circumstances where a reduction to the minimum disqualification period can be sought from the court.

If you are convicted of a drug driving offence in Western Australia there can be hefty fines and long periods of licence suspension, there is also the option of imprisonment as an alternative to a heavy fine in more serious cases.  As with the other states drug diving offences in Western Australia are divided into the two main categories.

Driving with prescribed illicit drug in oral fluid or blood
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountImprisonment*Demerit points
First offence N/A $500 N/A 3
Second or subsequent offence 6 months - unlimited $1,000 N/A N/A
Driving under the influence of a drug
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountImprisonment*Demerit points
First offence 10 months - unlimited $2,500 N/A N/A
Second 30 months - unlimited $3,500 9 months N/A
Third or subsequent offence Life $5,000 18 months N/A
*can be substituted for the fine

In order to avoid licence disqualification in Western Australia you may be eligible to apply for an Extraordinary Drivers Licence.  There may be a defence available to you in some circumstances.

Penalties for drug driving offences in Tasmania can be severe, your licence will be disqualified for a minimum period of three months and you will also be fined.  Tasmania has some of the heaviest drug driving fines in the country.  The length of disqualification will depend on the circumstances surrounding the offence and imprisonment is an option that the courts can exercise at their discretion.

Driving with prescribed illicit drug in blood

OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonment
First offence 3 - 12 months $1,680 3 months
Second or subsequent offence 6 months - 2 years $3,360 6 months
Driving under the influence of a drug
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonment
First offence 1 - 3 years $5,040 1 year
Second or subsequent offence 2 - 6 years $10,080 2 years

In Tasmania you may be able to apply for a Restricted Drivers Licence in certain circumstances. There is also the opportunity in certain situations to apply to the court for a reduction of the licence disqualification period.

In the ACT your licence will be immediately suspended if you commit a drug driving offence, the suspension is automatically 90 days for ACT drivers.  A conviction will be recorded when charged with a drug driving offence along with a fine and disqualification of your licence for a nominated period.  More serious or subsequent offences attract the possibility of a period of imprisonment.

Prescribed drug in oral fluid or blood - driver or driver trainer

OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonment
First offence 6 months - 3 years $1,600 N/A
Second or subsequent offence 12 months - 5 years $4,000 3 months
Driving under the influence of a drug
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonment
First offence 6 months - 3 years $4,800 6 months
Second or subsequent offence 12 months - 5 years $4,800 12 months

It is possible to apply to the court for a stay on the licence suspension notice.  If convicted in the ACT, depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to apply to the court to have no criminal conviction recorded which would remove the licence disqualification period and any imposed fine.  It is also possible, where an offender is eligible, to apply for a restricted licence so you can keep driving during specific hours or for specific purposes.

In the Northern Territory when you lose your licence on a drug driving related charge it is not possible to apply for a work or restricted licence.  Drug driving offences are of two main categories similar to those in the states.

Driving with certain drugs in body
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amount*Maximum imprisonment
First offence N/A $785 3 months
Second 3 months $1,178 6 months
Third or subsequent offence 6 months $1,178 6 months
Driving under the influence of a drug
OffenceLicence disqualificationMaximum Fine amountMaximum imprisonment
First offence 6 months - unlimited $1,570 1 year
Second or subsequent offence 12 months - unlimited $3,140 1 year
*an infringement notice will be issued and a $400 fee is payable.  If you decide to pay the fee and not challenge the charge there is no conviction recorded

Have you been charged?

To avoid tough penalties & jail you need an experienced Lawyer to defend you. For the best possible outcome in your case, speak with David.

Use the contact form or call now on (07) 5630 4000. (Available 24/7)

Contact David