Drug Driving Offences – Division 5 Road Traffic Act 1961
While experts disagree about the precise effects of illicit drugs on an individual, there is agreement that drugs in the system can make driving extremely dangerous. They may alter perceptions, impair coordination, effect reaction times and the ability to make judgments about distance and speed. There is no ”safe” level of drug use and all drug taking has the potential to cause harm. It may also lead to an addiction that could significantly impact your life and that of your family. If you are charged with a drug driving offence do not delay in contacting a drug offences lawyer to get the best advice as quickly as possible.
Unlike drink driving where there is a legal limit, it is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1961 to drive or attempt to drive with any amount of illicit drugs in your system. Drugs can be detected in the system for a long time after they have been consumed, which could be several days.
Random Drug Testing
In South Australia, police can randomly conduct roadside tests on drivers. You can be stopped anywhere on metro or country roads and asked to undertake a random breath test. If you are required to undertake a breath test police may then proceed to conduct a drug screening test. Boat operators may be tested randomly and charged with a drug driving offence in the same way.
A saliva test is used. It involves taking a sample from the mouth and testing it on the spot. The test is reliable and can detect the following:
- Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is contained in cannabis
- Methylamphetamine including speed crystal meth or ice
- 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamhetamine (MDMA) which is ecstasy
A first offence will likely result in an expiation notice fine. A second or subsequent offence requires scientific analysis of the sample and a court hearing. The penalties include mandatory minimum fines and licence disqualification similar to driving with prescribed concentration of alcohol. Road Traffic Act 1961 s47BA.
What happens if I refuse the test
Refusal or failure to undertake a drug test will result in mandatory minimum fines and licence disqualification. 6 demerit points will also be accrued.
What about other drugs
The saliva test detects TCH, Methylamphetamine and MDMA but not prescription drugs or the usual over counter medications like cold and flu tables. If a driver is obviously impaired by prescription drugs, police an charge that person with the offence of driving under the influence. Road Traffic Act 1961 s47