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Drug
Driving

Drink driving and DUI are both offences which criminalise the use of motor vehicles in situations where your driving ability has been compromised by the effects of the intoxicant (drugs and or alcohol). In the case of alcohol, the penalties increase with the degree to which you are intoxicated, and the degree to which you are therefore effected. These laws are directed at keeping our roads safe. Recently however, laws have been introduced which prohibit driving with certain drugs (illicit and prescription) at a detectable level in your system. There is no sliding scale of intoxication, only a positive or negative test for presence. 

With these new offences there is no need for the police to prove that your driving ability was comprised, only that the drug was present. While it is assumed that at the detectable level, your ability to drive is to some extent impacted, these offences are treated less seriously and can be punished only by fines. If it is determined that you have consumed an illegal drug and that you are noticeably effected by it, you can be charged with the more serious offence of DUI (see relevant page for more info). 

DRIVING WITH ILLICIT
DRUGS IN BODY

Recently a law was introduced that makes it an offence to have illicit drugs in your system while driving. Unlike the offence of DUI, there is no need for you to be under the effect of the drug, only that it is at a detectable level in your saliva, blood or urine. It is also an offence to supervise a learner driver with illicit drugs in your system. While the maximum penalty that can be imposed is a fine, a conviction will result in a period of disqualification. If it is your first ‘major’ offence within five years, the automatic period of disqualification is 6 months. The Court has the power to reduce this to 3 months in appropriate situations. If it is you second major offence, the automatic period of disqualification is 12 months with a minimum of 6 months.

The only way to avoid disqualification is to plead not guilty and successfully right the charge, or alternatively plead guilty and convince the Court to deal with your matter under section 10. This means you will be found guilty, but will not be convicted. Arguments in support of section 10 need to be carefully crafted by your lawyer in order to address specific legal issues and present a compelling case for leniency.

 

Maximum penalty: $1100 fine 
Maximum penalty (2nd offence): $2200 fine

DRIVING WITH
OPIATES IN BODY

It is an offence to drive or supervise a learner with morphine or cocaine at detectable levels in your body. There are two statutory defences to this charge. Firstly, if you can satisfy the court that the presence of the drug was the result of consuming a prescribed medicine in accordance with a practitioner direction. Secondly, if the presence of the drug was the result of consuming an over the counter codeine-based medicine in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
 

If it is your first ‘major’ offence within five years, the automatic period of disqualification is 6 months. The Court has the power to reduce this to 3 months in appropriate situations. If it is you second major offence, the automatic period of disqualification is 12 months with a minimum of 6 months.
 

The only way to avoid disqualification is to convince the Court to deal with your matter under section 10. This means you will be found guilty, but will not be convicted. Arguments in support of section 10 need to be carefully crafted by your lawyer in order to address specific legal issues and present a compelling case for leniency.

 

Maximum penalty: $1100 fine
Maximum penalty (2nd offence): $2200 fine​