Drug Driving – Drive under the influence of a drug

What is the offence of driving under the influence of a drug?

A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road while they are under the influence of a drug.

In order to charge a person with driving under the influence (DUI) of a drug, the Police only have to ascertain that the person appears to be affected by a drug at the time of driving.

This can be established through their own observations of the driver such as the drivers speech, mannerisms, behaviour, motor skills and other indicators which are consistent with the behaviour of drug affected people.

If a police officer reasonably suspects that your driving ability has been impaired by any drug you may be required to provide a specimen of blood for analysis. If you fail to provide a specimen, or a drug is detected in your blood, you will be charged with driving under the influence of liquor or a drug.

What is the penalty?

When dealing with your charge of driving under the influence of liquor or a drug, a magistrate may:

  • disqualify you from driving for up to 6 months
  • fine you up to $3,413
  • impose a maximum term of imprisonment up to 9 months.

If you are charged with a repeat drug driving offence a court may:

  • disqualify you from driving for up to 2 years
  •  fine you up to $7,314
  • impose a term of imprisonment for a period of time determined by the court.

If you fail to provide a specimen of saliva for testing, a court may:

  • disqualify you from driving for up to 9 months
  • fine you up to $4,876
  • impose a term of imprisonment of up to six months.

If you have been caught drug driving with a relevant drug present in your system, the penalties are different.

What does the court take into account in sentencing?

There are a number of factors that the court will take into account when determining the appropriate penalty. They include:

  • The reason for your driving at the time of the offence.
  • Your previous traffic history
  • Was the drug driving associated with the commission of another offence.
  • Your personal circumstances.
  • Any other circumstances the Court considers relevant.

Frequently asked questions.

Q. Do the Courts consider driving under the influence of a drug to be a serious offence?
A: The rising Queensland road toll means that Magistrates are taking a zero tolerance approach to the offence. For a first offence you would expect a fine and a period of disqualification.  Subsequent offences can result in longer disqualification periods and may attract imprisonment of up to three months.

Q: If I am convicted of driving under the influence of a drug am I able to apply for a work license?
A: If you are charged with driving under the influence of a drug you are not eligible for a work license no matter how great your need for one.

Q. If I am convicted of driving under the influence of a drug am I able to apply for a Special Hardship Order?
A: If you are charged with driving under the influence of a drug you are not eligible for a Special Hardship Order.

Q: Sometimes I take prescription/over the counter drugs. I’m not breaking the law if I drive, am I?
A: 
Yes, if you are what the law defines as ‘under the influence of drugs’. A random saliva test will not pick up prescription/over the counter drugs. Under some circumstances, the police can request that you take a blood test which will detect prescription and over the counter medications.

 

Contact Gatenby Criminal Law

Contact our experienced law firm for advice immediately following a drug driving charge on the Gold Coast or in Brisbane. Our expert traffic lawyers will guide you through the process.

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