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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Drug Driving Offences


There are two types of drug driving offences in New South Wales. They are driving with the presence of certain drugs in oral fluid, blood or urine; and driving under the influence of a drug. This article will provide details as to the maximum penalties, disqualification periods and sentencing statistics for both drug driving offences.

Drug driving offences: The Presence of Certain Drugs in Oral Fluid, Blood or Urine

Under section 111 of the Road Transport Act 2013, it is an offence for a person to drive or occupy the driver’s seat of a vehicle and attempt to put it in motion with the presence of an illicit drug in the person’s system. It is also an offence for the holder of a full driver’s licence to supervise a learner driver while drugs are present in the full license holder’s system.

This drug driving offence is committed when a person is caught driving with any of the following drugs in their oral fluid (saliva) blood or urine:

  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC – found in cannabis),
  • Methylamphetamine (also known as speed),
  • Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (also known as ecstasy),
  • Morphine,
  • Cocaine

The maximum penalties for this offence are a fine of $1,100 for a first offence and $2,200 for a second or subsequent offence. The automatic period of disqualification for a first offence is six months and the minimum period of disqualification if you are convicted is 3 months. The automatic period of disqualification for a second or subsequent offence is 12 months and the minimum period of disqualification if you are convicted is 6 months.

Defence

If a person is found driving with morphine in their system, it is a defence if the drug was prescribed by a medical practitioner and taken for medicinal purposes in accordance with the instructions.

Drug driving offences: DUI

It is an offence under section 112 of the Road Transport Act 2013 to drive, occupy the driver’s seat of a vehicle and attempt to put it in motion or supervise a learner driver while under the influence of a drug or a combination of drugs (DUI).

The maximum penalties for the offence of driving under the influence of a drug are a fine of $2,200 or nine months imprisonment for a first offence and $3300 or up to 12 months imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence. The automatic period of disqualification for a first offence is 12 months and the minimum period of disqualification if you are convicted is 6 months. The automatic period of disqualification for a second or subsequent offence is 3 years and the minimum period of disqualification if you are convicted is 12 months.

What is the difference between these two drug driving offences?

In order for a person to be found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs, the person’s driving must actually be affected by the drug or combination of drugs. They must be unable to have proper control of the vehicle, due to the drugs in their system.

In order to be found guilty of driving with the presence of a drug in the oral fluid, blood or urine, a person need only have a drug present in their system at the time of driving. As different drugs stay in a person’s system for different periods of time, the presence of some drugs in a person’s blood or urine may be detected long after the person has ceased to be ‘drug-affected.’

If you require legal advice or representation in relation to drug driving offence or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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