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Drug Testing in Queensland

Updated on Apr 12, 2023 4 min read 627 views Copy Link

Michelle Makela

Published in Jul 22, 2015 Updated on Apr 12, 2023 4 min read 627 views

Drug Testing in Queensland

In Queensland, the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 and the Criminal Code Act 1899 outline a number of offences relating to drug driving and give police the power to conduct random roadside saliva testing for various illegal drugs and prescription medications.

Testing procedure

Queensland Police may require drivers to take part in roadside drug testing including  swabbing a driver’s mouth for saliva. This is an easy and simple process that only takes a short time to complete.

The saliva sample will be tested for any trace of THC, MDA or methamphetamine. If the roadside swab test returns a positive result, the driver must go to a police station for a second saliva test.

Whilst at the station, a swab of saliva will be taken from the driver’s mouth and tested for traces of various illicit drugs. If any trace of an illegal drug is found in the second sample, this will result in an immediate suspension from driving for 24 hours and the driver will be charged with an offence.

Police may test for prescription drugs as well as illicit drugs. An officer may request that a driver provide a sample of blood if they believe that a legal drug has impaired their ability to drive safely. If this has occurred, the driver may be faced with drug driving charges if they are operating a vehicle after taking medication such as painkillers or cold and flu drugs that contain pseudoephedrine.

Penalties and charges

Under Queensland law, all road users must have no trace of any prohibited drugs in their system. If any amount of a prohibited drug is found in a driver’s system, they will be charged with an offence. Drug driving offences are classified as either driving under the influence of a drug (DUI) or driving while a relevant drug is present in the blood or saliva.

Driving under the influence

Under section 79 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995, a person who drives under the influence of a drug is liable to a fine of up to 28 penalty unit or imprisonment for up to nine months. Higher penalties apply if the offender has one or more previous convictions for the same offence within the last five years.

Drug driving

Under section 79(2AA) of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995, a person who drives with a relevant drug present in their blood or saliva is liable to a fine of up to 14 penalty units or imprisonment for up to three months.

What’s the difference?

A drug driving charge is less serious offence than a DUI. A simple charge of drug driving occurs when a relevant drug is present in a saliva sample; however, the attending officer determines that the relevant drug has not influenced the offender’s capacity to drive safely. This offence typically results in a fine of $1,500, or a jail term of three months.

On the other hand, being under the influence of a drug whilst driving is a far more serious offence as the driver’s capacity to drive safely is compromised.

A first-time offender will typically be given a $3,000 fine, a driving disqualification period of six-months and/or imprisonment for up to nine months.

For a second offence within a five-year period, a $6000 fine will be handed down, as well as a two-year driving disqualification and/or imprisonment for up to 18 months.

Defences

A driver charges with one of these offences may have a legal defence available to them. These include sudden or extraordinary emergency and duress.

An accused person may also be able to defeat a charge if their saliva/blood sample was not taken within three hours of their being in charge of a motor vehicle.

Do I need legal advice?

If you have been charged with a drug driving offence, our lawyers will be able to assist you to understand the charge and applicable penalties and to identify whether any defence may apply.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Published in

Jul 22, 2015

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 
Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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