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Drug Testing in the Australian Capital Territory

It is a criminal offence in the Australian Capital Territory to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of a prescribed drug, which includes drugs such as methyl amphetamines.  In certain circumstances, a police officer can require you to take a drug test to check whether you have committed an offence.  Such a test can be required both randomly and following an accident.  The rules dealing with how a drug test is administered are contained in the Road Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1977 and the Road Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) Regulation 2000.  Failure to take a drug test may be a criminal offence.

Drug-Testing-ACT

What is drug testing?

Two different kinds of drug tests are carried out in the Australian Capital Territory.  Both involve testing an oral fluid sample provided by you for the presence of a drug.  The first is a drug screening test.  The second test is taken if the drug screening test has a positive result.  It is known as oral fluid analysis.

Circumstances when a drug screening test may be required

Under the Road Traffic (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1977, different rules apply for drug testing depending on whether you were the driver of a motor vehicle, a driver trainer, have been involved in an accident, or you are suspected of committing an offence of culpable driving.  You can be required to take a drug screening test randomly by a police officer if you have driven a motor vehicle on a road or road related area, or you are the driver trainer of such a driver.  The police officer does not need to suspect that you have driven the motor vehicle under the influence of drugs.  You must follow the police officers’ instructions when taking the test.  You might even be required to wait for up to half an hour if the police officer does not have a drug screening device handy, but you can only be required to do so if the police officer reasonably suspects that there is a drug in your body.

Drug screening tests following an accident

If you are involved in a car crash on a road or a road related area, a police officer can require you to take a drug screening test, regardless of whether they suspect you drove the motor vehicle under the influence of a drug.  You can be required to remain in a particular place for up to 30 minutes to take the drug screening test.  You must also comply with the police officers’ directions or you might commit a criminal offence.

Drug screening tests for culpable driving

A police officer can require you to take a drug screening test if they reasonably suspect you of committing the criminal offence of culpable driving.  Similar to the above cases, you can be required to remain in a particular place for up to 30 minutes to take the drug screening test, and you should comply with the police officers’ directions or you might commit a criminal offence.

Taking an oral fluid analysis

If you take a drug screening test in one of the above circumstances and the results suggest you do have a drug in your body, the police officer who administered the drug screening test can take you into detention for the purposes of taking an oral fluid analysis.  You can also be taken into custody if you fail to take the drug screening test (e.g. because you refuse to take it).  You will then be required to give an oral fluid sample for oral fluid analysis.  There are specific rules in the Australian Capital Territory for how an oral fluid analysis can be carried out.  For example, after you give an oral fluid sample, a preliminary analysis will be taken of part of the sample.  One part of the sample will be sealed in a tamper proof container and tested later to confirm the results of the preliminary analysis.  You will receive a written statement of the results of the analysis.

Offences

You will commit a criminal offence in the Australian Capital Territory if you refuse to provide an oral fluid sample for the purposes of the above tests, unless there are medical grounds why you could not give a sample.  You will also commit a criminal offence if you do not follow the directions of the police officer administering the test.  It is also a separate offence if you refuse to undergo a drug screening test.  For each of these offences, the maximum penalty is a fine of 30 penalty units, and you may also face a period of imprisonment.

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