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Drug Testing in the Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, the law about driving under the influence of a drug is contained in the Traffic Act. The procedure for Drug Testing in the Northern Territory and the definition of a drug is outlined in the Traffic Regulations. Some drugs are strictly prohibited and some are prohibited unless they are prescribed by a medical practitioner and taken exactly as directed. The police have the power to use roadside saliva tests and blood samples to test drivers who may be driving under the influence of drugs.

Drug Testing NT

Procedures for Drug Testing in the Northern Territory

You may be required to submit to a roadside saliva test. A sample of your saliva is taken using an absorbent collector placed in your mouth or on your tongue. This test takes 3-5 minutes. This is a preliminary test, and if it is positive you will need to undertake a blood test.

When can your saliva be tested?

A police officer may require you to take a saliva test if;

  • It is a random roadside driver test.
  • You are the driver of a vehicle with a gross vehicle mass of 4.5 tonnes or more.
  • The police suspect that you are driving under the influence of a drug.
  • The police believe that you were the driver of a vehicle that was involved in an accident, provided that the accident happened no more than 4 hours ago.

If the police ask you to submit to a saliva test, you must comply. A police officer must not ask you to take a saliva test if it appears that you are injured, and it may be detrimental to your medical condition to take the test or if you have a physical disability that prevents you providing a sufficient sample of saliva for the test.

When can your blood be tested?

If you don’t provide a sufficient sample of saliva for testing, or if the police believe that your blood may contain a prohibited drug (whether or not as a result of a positive saliva test), you may be arrested and detained and have a sample of blood taken for analysis. The police will arrange for you to be taken to a hospital or health centre. You must not fail to comply with these arrangements, or fail to comply with the directions of the person taking the sample of blood. It is a defence if it would have been detrimental to your medical condition to have given the sample of blood at the time that you were required to do so, or that you had another good reason for not doing so. It is not a reasonable excuse for failing to give a blood sample that you had consumed alcohol or another substance after you stopped driving the vehicle.

The Offence

It is an offence to drive or to instruct a learner driver while there is prohibited drug in your system. The police do not have to show that your ability to drive was affected in order to prove the offence, it is sufficient that the drug is in your blood. The maximum penalty for a first offence is $765.00 or imprisonment for 3 months. For a second or subsequent offence it is $1,147.50 or imprisonment for 6 months. An offence is a second or subsequent offence if you have previously been found guilty of either driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug or driving with a prohibited drug in the blood. For these offences, your licence will also be automatically cancelled and you will be disqualified from driving for at least 3 months for a second offence or 6 months for a subsequent offence.

Driving under influence

It is an offence if you drive or instruct a learner driver while under the influence of a drug which makes you incapable of having proper control of a vehicle. The maximum penalty for a first offence is $1,530.00 or imprisonment for 12 months. For a second or subsequent offence it is $3,060.00 or imprisonment for 12 months. An offence is a second or subsequent offence if you have previously been found guilty of one of the offences of drink or drug driving specified in the Act.

Your licence will also be automatically cancelled and won’t be able drive;

  • For a first offence for at least 6 months.
  • For a second or subsequent offence for at least 12 months.

For offences relating to driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, interlock laws may also apply in the Northern Territory.

Failure to submit to blood testing

The maximum penalty for a first offence of failing to submit a blood sample is $1,530.00 or imprisonment for 12 months.  For a second or subsequent offence it is $3,060.00 or imprisonment for 12 months. An offence is a second or subsequent offence if you have previously been found guilty of one of the drink or drug driving offence set out in the Act. The penalties increase if you have been found guilty of more than one previous offence.

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