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Types of drug driving offences

The police may charge you with an offence of drug driving if they think that you had an illicit drug in your system while you were driving, or a prescription drug in your system while you were driving and you took the drug in a way that your doctor did not prescribe, which has affected your driving.

It is an offence under s.12 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 to us or attempt to use a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug (DUI). It is an offence to drive with any amount of THC, methamphetamine or ecstasy present in oral fluid, blood or urine and this can be done through saliva swab, blood and urine testing. It is also an offence to drive under the influence of morphine or cocaine, but the presence of these substances is tested in the blood or urine, not by saliva swab.

The testing for the presence of THC (the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis), methamphetamine and ecstasy is done by saliva swab (an ‘oral fluid test’). The saliva testing devices are designed to detect consumption of the drugs within the previous hours, not days. This is most commonly known as roadside drug testing. If the testing device gives a positive result, a further saliva sample will be taken for analysis. The driver will be sent a court attendance notice, and banned from driving for 24 hours.

Aside from DUI under under s.12, it is also an offence to:

  • Have presence of drug in oral fluid under s11B
  • Refuse to provide oral fluid sample under s18D
  • Wilfully alter drug in oral fluid under s18G(1)
  • Refuse to provide urine sample or blood sample or wilfully alter amount of drug after fatal motor vehicle collision under s24D(1)
  • Hinder doctor or registered nurse in taking prescribed sample of blood or urine of any other person
  • Refuse to provide blood or urine sample or wilfully alter amount of drug following sobriety test under s29(2)


The maximum penalty for driving under the influence (DUI) of THC, methamphetamine or ecstasy is a $2200 fine for a first offence, and $3300 for a second or subsequent offence. On conviction, there is a minimum licence disqualification period of six months. The ‘automatic’ period of disqualification is twelve months. If it is the second serious driving offence within a five-year period, the automatic disqualification period is 3 years, with a twelve month minimum period.

Being involved in the criminal or police process can be quite demanding, rigorous, and time consuming. Hiring the right criminal lawyers can often make a substantial difference in your case.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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