Police Cracking Down on Drug Drivers

Drug Driving Offences on the Rise in NSW

Police are now cracking down on Drug Drivers.

Last June a serious crash occurred in Sutton Forest in NSW when a truck driver allegedly under the influence of drugs struck another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was trapped in his vehicle for over two hours before he was freed by rescue personnel and taken by helicopter to hospital. As a result of the collision, the driver was put in critical condition with face lacerations and spinal injuries.

Drug use in NSW is on the rise and with it drug driving has also become a major road safety issue. In an industry where many companies compromise safety standards to save costs and tampering with speed regulators and log books is the norm, there is no surprise that truck drivers are turning to illicit drugs like Methylamphetamine or ‘ice’ to help get them through the many hours they need to stay alert in order to remain competitive.

NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol commander Deputy Superintendent John Hartley said “11 per cent of road fatalities between 2010 and 2013 involved people controlling a vehicle who had illicit drugs in their system.”

An increase in the number of drivers caught with traces of drugs in their system across NSW doubled over a one year period from 2013 to 2014. In 2015 there were over 36,000 thousand drivers pulled over for drug testing with 12 per cent of those drivers testing positive for an illicit drug. Police figures also show a spike in the number of truck drivers testing positive for ice with a 20 per cent increase this year alone. The number of motorists in general that have tested positive for ice also doubled between 2012 and 2014.

It is because of this rampant increase in drug driving that police across the country are cracking down and roadside drug testing kits will soon be rolled out across most of NSW. By 2017 there will be a large number of these portable units in operation throughout the state.

Who will be required to submit to a roadside drug test?

The Road Transport Act 2013, states that police can require any driver, motorcycle rider or person attempting to drive a motor vehicle to undergo one or more oral fluid tests for the presence of three illicit drugs.

Passengers are not required to submit to an oral fluid test unless he or she is supervising a holder of a learner’s licence. If so, then he or she must also submit to an oral fluid test or he or she can also be charged.

A roadside drug test does not necessarily imply drivers are directly under the influence of drugs at the time they are pulled over. This is because traces of some drugs can stay in the human body for more than a week after consumption.

What happens if I get a positive drug driving test result?

When you are first pulled over for a roadside drug test, the police will require you to lick the test pad of the device through your vehicle window. They will have the results in 5 minutes. If you test positive you will be required to get out of your vehicle and go with the police to a random drug testing bus or police station.to provide a second oral fluid sample. This second test takes approximately 20 minutes.

A positive drug driving roadside test result means police will revoke your driving privileges for 24 hours while they send your sample away for laboratory forensic testing to confirm whether you were under the influence of drugs while driving.

Drug Driving Facts

The three most commonly illicit drugs used by drivers are:

Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA or ‘ecstasy’)
Methylamphetamine, (‘speed’, ‘ice’, ‘base’, or ‘crystal meth’), and
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the drug component found in cannabis.

According to A Roads and Maritime Services study, cannabis is the drug most identified in drug driving tests and was found in 81% of the cases. THC can be detected several hours after using cannabis but the exact amount of time depends on the amount and potency of cannabis used.

Penalties for Drug Driving in NSW

Drug driving penalties can be found on our page by clicking here.

It is illegal to drive, attempt to drive or instruct a learner while affected by drugs. If you are found drug driving you may be faced with a penalty notice, have your licence suspended or be charged with a serious offence. Fines range from as high as $5,500 or 2 years imprisonment for just refusing to provide a blood sample.

There are six major drug driving offences:

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug,
Driving with illicit drug in oral fluid, blood or urine.
Refusing to submit to oral fluid or sobriety test.
Refusing to submit to taking of blood or oral fluid sample.
Refusing to submit urine sample.
Preventing the taking of blood sample.

The most common offences are the first two, above.

If found guilty of a drug driving offence, the court will consider a number of factors when deciding an appropriate penalty such as:

The reason you chose to drive under the influence of drugs,
The length of the journey,
The number of people put at risk by your drug driving,
Whether a collision had occurred,
Your traffic record,
The effect of disqualification of your licence will have on your family, dependants and/or livelihood,
Whether you are a regular drug user and your risk of reoffending.

Drug Driving Penalties- Is it fair?

The problem with roadside drug driving testing is that it only reveals if drugs have been used. Some drugs like cannabis can remain in your system for days or weeks without impacting a person’s ability to drive. Alcohol testing on the other hand does have an allowable 0.05 blood alcohol concentration limit and anything below that limit does not have an impact on driving.

At LY Lawyers we have achieved countless “no convictions” for our clients who have been charged with Drug Driving offences.

Call us on 1300 595 299 for a free phone consultation.