Drug driving is a relatively new offence detected by a similar test to rendom breath testing. The driver is directed to ‘lick’ a test pad that will react to the presence of certain drugs – cannabis, ecstasy (also known as MDMA), methylamphetamine (ICE) and amphetamine (speed).
If you fail the lick test, you are subjected to a further test, If you fail that test, you will be suspended from driving for a day whilst your oral fluid sample is sent away for analysis.
The offence of Driving Under The Influence Of A Drug (DUI) has existed for many years but rarely used by police because it usually depends upon a driver being noticeably affected by drugs (not limited to cannabis, ecstasy, speed or ICE and coming under notice through the manner of driving or as a result of being taken to hospital after a motor vehicle accident.
Your drug driving lawyer at Nyman Gibson Miralis will advise you as to the important difference between Drug Driving and DUI – you do not have to be affected by the drug to be guilty of drug driving. The mere presence of the drug when drug tested (lick test) is sufficient for police to carry out further tests and prosecute the driver, for example, cannabis (THC) stays in the blood system for many days after use.
Police powers have also been extended to arrange for blood and urine testing of drivers involved in accidents where persons are killed or severely injured. Blood or uring testing might discover other drugs such as cocaine or heroin – and if found, the drug driving laws come into play. Having a blood alcohol concentration over 0.05 in an at fault serous accident, or being under the influence of a drug (potentially even a prescription drug) could be an aggravating circumstance placing the driver at risk of years of imprisonment as well as disqualification. Drugs used for the treatment of anxiety or depression (and other drugs) can affect a person’s fine motor skills.
If the quantity of the drug detected is such that would have affected the driver’s ability to manage or control the vehicle, the DUI provisions will apply at the very least. Time limits apply for police to commence a prosecution.
The penalties for drug driving involve an automatic disqualification period of 6 months for a first offence which can be reduced to not less than 3 months unless the offence is proved and dismissed under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing procedure) Act. The maximum fine for a first offence is $1,100 – but a conviction is a criminal record.
For a second offence within 5 years, the disqualification period doubles and so does the maximum fine. There is no provision for imprisonment.
The penalties for DUI or for refusing to provide an oral fluid sample (lick test) or blood or urine sample are more severe and provide longer disqualification periods, greater fines and even the risk of imprisonment.