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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...

Use Vehicle Under the Influence of Drugs


The offence of use a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other drug is committed by a person who drives a motor vehicle, attempts to use a motor vehicle or occupies a seat in or on a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving a vehicle on a public road whilst under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs.

Following the recording of a criminal conviction the maximum penalty for a first offender is imprisonment for 18 months, a fine of 30 penalty units and automatic licence disqualification for 13 years. The maximum penalty for a repeat following the recording of a criminal conviction within 5 years is imprisonment for 2 years, a fine of 50 penalty units and automatic licence disqualification for 5 years.

The Offence of Use a Vehicle Under the Influence

The offence of use or attempted use of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other drug is set out in section 112 of the Road Transport Act 2013 which states:

A person must not, while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug:

  • drive a vehicle, or
  • occupy the driving seat of a vehicle and attempt to put the vehicle in motion, or
  • if the person is the holder of an applicable driver licence (other than an applicable provisional licence or applicable learner licence) – occupy the seat in or on a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle.

“Drive” includes:

  • be in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of a vehicle; and
  • in relation to a trailer, draw or tow the trailer; and
  • ride a vehicle.

A “vehicle” is:

  • Any description of vehicle on wheels (including a light rail vehicle) but not including any other vehicle used on a railway or tramway; or
  • Any description of tracked vehicle (such as a bulldozer), or any description of vehicle that moves on revolving runners inside endless tracks, that is not used exclusively on a railway or tramway; or
  • Any other description of vehicle prescribed by the statutory rules.

“Applicable driver licence” is:

  • a licence (however described) issued under a law in force in any jurisdiction authorising the holder to drive one or more classes of motor vehicle on a road;
  • a driver licence receipt for a licence referred to in paragraph (a);
  • a foreign driver licence.

The term “driver licence receipt” is a receipt that:

  • is issued following an application for an Australian driver licence and after payment of any applicable fee; and
  • authorises the holder to drive one or more classes of motor vehicle on a road or road related area.

What the Police Must Prove

To find a person guilty of use a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other drug, the police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were under the influence of:

  • A drug described in the court attendance notice; or
  • A combination of drugs any one or more of which was or were described in the court attendance notice.

Is It Possible to Avoid a Criminal Record?

It may be possible to avoid a criminal record if you are afforded the leniency of a section 10 non-conviction order for use vehicle under the influence of a drug.

Use Vehicle Under the Influence: Jurisdiction

This charge will be heard in the Local Court.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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