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Criminal Law Blog NSW

Meaning of the 12 Hour Rule

In Roadside Drug Testing there is such a rule as the 12 Hour Rule. According to the website of the Centre for Road Safe Safety under the Drugs and Driving section, cannabis or marijuana is typically detected in saliva by an MDT test stick for up to 12 hours after use.

In said section, the word “typically” was added pursuant to the case of Police v Joseph Carrall in Lismore.

Meaning of the 12 Hour Rule

According to the advice of the NSW Government, what the 12 hour rule basically means is that beyond 12 hours after using cannabis the user can reasonably expect that the drug will not be detected.

A precedent has already been set which allows a person charged with drug driving to test this theory in court. However, the burden is still upon the prosecution to prove that a person charged with driving under the influence of drugs is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Furthermore, this is not an absolute rule as the magistrate will still decide based on the evidence presented. 

How drugs test are conducted and used as evidence

Police can conduct roadside drug tests of drivers for the presence of illegal drugs. A saliva test is conducted using a drug screening equipment. If the driver’s test results to positive for presence of drugs, the driver has to take a second confirmatory drug test at the police station or at a mobile drug bus. The sample for the second test will be taken for laboratory analysis which is a process that entails months before the results are known.

The laboratory test will detect traces of cannabis or marijuana, speed/crystal/methamphetamine/ice, and MDMA or ecstasy. If the results are positive for any of these drugs, the police will issue a 24 hour prohibition from driving against the driver. The driver will also be issued with a court attendance notice for the appropriate offence. The evidence that the police will use against the driver is the result of the laboratory analysis, not the roadside saliva test result.

A person charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamine or ecstasy may be potentially penalized with a fine of $1100 for a first offence and disqualification from holding a driver’s license for a minimum of three months. However, there are instances wherein a first time offender will sometimes get a Section 10 Order which means no fine or recorded conviction.

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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