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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Driver Drug Testing (WA)


Under the Road Traffic Act 1974 it is an offence for a person to drive while impaired by drugs or with an illicit drug in their system.

A police officer who suspects a driver is committing such an offence can require the driver to undergo a drug impairment assessment or preliminary saliva test. The officer can then require the driver to provide a blood, urine or oral fluid sample to test for the presence of drugs in the driver’s body.

All samples must be taken within 4 hours of the driving instance to be valid. A person will not be required to provide a sample if they are incapable due to their physical condition.

Drug impairment assessment

If a police officer reasonably suspects a person is or was driving, or attempting to drive, while impaired by something other than alcohol alone, the officer can require the person to undergo a drug impairment assessment.

Also, if the officer:

  • reasonably believes a vehicle has caused personal injury or damage to property; and
  • they identify a person they reasonably believe may have been driving the vehicle; and
  • they reasonably believe the person was impaired by something other than alcohol alone when driving;

they can require the person to undergo a drug impairment assessment.

The assessment involves observing physical factors such as appearance, co-ordination, balance and behaviour.

If an assessment shows a person is drug impaired, or if a person refuses an assessment, a police officer may require the person to:

  • allow a prescribed sample taker to take a sample of the person’s blood for analysis; and/or
  • provide a prescribed sample taker with a same of the person’s urine for analysis.

Preliminary oral fluid test

A police officer can also require a driver to undergo a preliminary oral fluid test if they reasonably suspect the driver is impaired by drugs. The officer can also require this when they reasonably believe a vehicle has caused personal injury or damage to property; and they can identify a person they reasonably believe may have been driving the vehicle.

Oral fluid sample

If a preliminary oral fluid test shows a person’s oral fluid contains a prescribed illicit drug, or if a person refuses a preliminary oral fluid test, a police officer may require the person to provide a sample of oral fluid for drug testing. The person may be required to accompany a police officer to a place for testing and wait there.

Blood and urine samples

If a drug impairment assessment shows a person is drug impaired, or if a person refuses an assessment, a police officer may require the person to provide a sample of blood or urine for drug testing. The person may be required to accompany a police officer to a place for testing and wait there.

Failure to comply

It is an offence if a person fails to comply with a requirement to:

  • undergo a drug impairment assessment;
  • allow a prescribed sample taker to take a sample of the person’s blood for analysis;
  • provide a prescribed sample taker with a sample of the person’s urine for analysis.

For a first offence, the penalty is a fine of between 18 penalty units ($900) and 50 penalty units ($2500) and a licence disqualification of up to 10 months. For a second offence, the penalty is a fine of a minimum of 42 penalty units ($2100) and a maximum of 70 penalty units ($3500), or imprisonment for 9 months, and a licence disqualification of no less than 30 months. For any subsequent offence, the penalty is a fine of a minimum of 42 penalty units ($2100) and a maximum of 100 penalty units ($5000), or imprisonment for 18 months, and a permanent licence disqualification.

A person will not commit an offence if they can show a substantial reason for non-compliance, such as a medical condition.

It is also an offence if a person fails to comply with a requirement to provide a sample of oral fluid for drug testing.

For a first offence, the penalty is a fine is up to 10 penalty units ($500), and for a subsequent offence, a fine of between 10 penalty units ($500) and 20 penalty units ($1000) and a minimum licence disqualification of 6 months.

Failure to comply with other requirements of a police officer, such as refusing to accompany a police officer to a police station or other place and waiting at the place, is also an offence. For a first offence, the penalty is a fine of between 6 penalty units ($300) and 16 penalty units ($800) and a minimum licence disqualification of 3 months. For a subsequent offence, the penalty is a fine of between 12 penalty units ($600) and 28 penalty units ($1400) and a minimum licence disqualification of 6 months.

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

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