Drug Driving

Drug Driving

What is Drug Driving?

Police may charge you with drug driving if a saliva swab taken during a roadside drug test detects the presence of illicit drugs in your system.

The test, which is carried out by licking the swab, is currently able to detect the presence of:

  • cannabis,
  • ecstasy/MDMA,
  • methylamphetamine (ice) and
  • amphetamines (speed).

If you fail the preliminary lick test, you will need to repeat it. If the result is the same, further laboratory analysis will be conducted. This can take 24 hours, and you will not be permitted to drive in that time. If the test confirms the presence of illicit drugs, you will be charged with the offence of driving with the presence of an illicit drug.

What are the penalties for Drug Driving?

If you are convicted, the potential penalties include:

First major offence within 5 years

Maximum fine

Add another row: Maximum prison sentence

$2,200

9 months

Minimum disqualification

6 months

Automatic disqualification (in the absence of a specific court order)

12 months

Second major offence within 5 years

Maximum fine

Add another row: Maximum prison sentence

$3,300


12 months

Minimum disqualification

12 months

Automatic disqualification (in the absence of a specific court order)

3 years


How severe is the charge against you?

A relatively recent charge, drug driving is considered to be quite important by governments who want to be perceived as being tough on the ‘drug epidemic’. Although it is viewed as a serious charge, it is still possible to argue for a section 10.

The penalties are similar to drink driving, however the way the severity of the offence is judged is very different. The amount of a drug in your system and whether you were affected by it while you were driving doesn't matter, it is enough that it was detected. This is an important consideration, particularly in circumstances where some drugs like marijuana can remain detectable for days after ingestion.

Traffic Offender Intervention Program

If you participate in the Traffic Offender Intervention Program, a court may lessen the penalties imposed on you if you are found guilty of drug driving. This program covers traffic laws and rules, why it is important not to breach them and the potential consequences for yourself and the community if you do. After the course is finished, a certificate will be sent to the court and it can be taken into account in determining your sentence.

More information about the Traffic Offender Intervention Program  

What to do if you have been charged with Drug Driving?

Do not take risks with your future or your licence. 

If you have been charged with Drug Driving contact one of our Accredited Specialists or criminal defence lawyers for advice now – your first conference is free and we travel to all courts in NSW.  There may be numerous defences open to you if you are facing drug driving charges. Nyman Gibson Miralis can provide you with concrete advice and assistance on what you should do once you have been charged, including providing you with recommendations on whether you should obtain a pharmacological report or otherwise contest the charge.

If you need advice from a criminal defence lawyer, contact one of our criminal law specialists immediately at either our Sydney or our Parramatta offices. Call 1800 NOT GUILTY or fill in our contact form on this page and arrange a free conference with a solicitor today. Contact our specialists right now! 24-hour legal advice 7 days a week.

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