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Drug-Driving in New South Wales

Written by Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

The New South Wales government has today launched its first drug-driving campaign in the wake of statistical evidence showing many more drivers are being caught behind the wheel under the effects of illicit drugs than they are under the effects of alcohol.

For this year alone, while 1 in every 305 random breath tests (RBT) have tested positive for alcohol, of all those who have undergone mobile drug testing (MDT), 1 in 10 have returned a positive result. In addition, in 2015, illicit drugs were linked to the drivers or riders involved in about 50 road deaths.

The number of mobile drug tests is set to be tripled to 97,000 per year by 2017. Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Troy Grant has warned, ‘If you’re pulled over by Police, it could be for a random breath test for alcohol, a mobile drug test, or both – so don’t be surprised when it happens to you.

In NSW in 2015, 1 of every 305 RBT has tested positive while 1 in every 10 mobile drug test has tested positive.

Driving, or attempting to drive, a vehicle while affected by drugs is an offence under the Road Transport Act 2013. If you are convicted of a basic drug-driving offence you may be liable to a penalty of:

  • for a first offence – a fine of $1,100 and 3-6 months disqualification from driving, or
  • for a second or subsequent offence – a fine of $2,200 and disqualification from driving for a minimum of 6 months to an unlimited maximum.

Further penalties apply if you refuse to provide a sample when asked to do so.

You can read more about drug-driving offences in New South Wales on our webpage.

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