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Drug Driving in Western Australia

In Western Australia, there are a range of offences that apply to driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. These are contained in the Road Traffic Act 1974. Since 2007, police in WA have conducted random tests of drivers and riders for illicit drugs and prescribed medication in much the same way that drivers are tested for alcohol. This article deals with the drug and drink driving offences that exist in WA and the penalties that apply.

Driving while impaired by drugs

Under section 64AB of the Road Traffic Act 1974, when a person in WA drives while impaired by drugs, they are liable to the following penalties.

For a first offence, a fine of between 34 and 75 penalty units and disqualification from driving for at least 10 months.

For a second offence, a fine of between 63 and 105 penalty units or imprisonment for nine months and disqualification from driving for at least 30 months.

For a third or subsequent offence, a fine of between 63 and 150 penalty units or imprisonment for 18 months and permanent disqualification from driving.

Driving with drugs in the system

Under section 64AC, a person who drives with a prescribed drug in the blood or oral fluid is guilty of an offence. This is punishable by the following penalties.

For a first offence, a fine of up to 25 penalty units.

For a second or subsequent offence, a fine of between 25 and 40 penalty units and disqualification from driving for at least six months.

Drink and drug driving

Under section 64AB, it is also an offence to drive with both an illicit drug in the system and a BAC of more then .05. This is punishable by a fine of up to 38 penalty units or three months imprisonment for a first offence, and stepper penalties for subsequent offences.

Do I have to do a driver assessment test or a blood or urine test for drugs?

If you are the driver of a vehicle and have been pulled over by the police on suspicion of drug driving, the police may ask you to do a driver assessment test to see if you are impaired by drugs. Alternately. They may ask you to do a blood or urine test to check for the presence of illicit drugs in your system. It is an offence to refuse to comply with this request.

What should I do if I am charged with drug driving?

If you have been charged with drug driving, first consider whether you are guilty of the offence. Were you the driver of the vehicle? Were you driving on a road or other place to which the public has access?

If you are facing a drug driving offence as well as another driving offence, such as careless driving or dangerous driving, your situation is more serious and in some circumstances there may even be a risk of imprisonment. If you are in this situation, we strongly recommend you get legal advice before entering a plea.

What are my chances of avoiding a fine or disqualification period?

For most drug driving offences, the minimum penalty is fixed so the court must impose at least the minimum fine and three demerit points for a first offence. A minimum period of three months disqualification will also apply for a second offence. The court can impose more than the minimum if it thinks it is appropriate in the circumstances.

If you are a P-plater and have been disqualified for drug driving, your licence will be automatically cancelled.

If you want to know what penalty you are likely to receive, please contact our lawyers on 1300 636 846.

Extraordinary driver’s licences

If you have been disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence, you may be eligible to apply for an extraordinary driver’s which may allow you to drive in certain specified circumstances, such as to and from paid employment. This type of licence is granted at the discretion of a court. If you would like to know whether you are eligible to apply for an extraordinary licence, please speak to one of our lawyers.

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

Author

Michelle Makela

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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