Drug driving is on the increase, according to NSW Police. With drug driving figures estimated at almost double this year compared to last year, police have announced that they will be increasing the number of roadside testing units deployed over the summer holidays.
Many driving offence lawyers are experienced in defending drug driving cases, and if you’ve been accused of driving under the influence of drugs, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
How widespread is drug driving in NSW?
Driving while under the influence of an illegal substance is believed to be on the increase across NSW and other states in Australia. According to government figures, 1,000 people were convicted of drug driving offences in the state between 2010 and 2013.
How do drug driving tests work?
Roadside drug driving tests are intended to test for a range of different illegal substances, including marijuana and methamphetamine (also known as speed, ice or crank). Drug driving tests are able to detect drugs that were consumed up to 48 hours prior to testing.
When you undergo a roadside drug test, you will be required to provide a sample of saliva by licking a swab. While roadside breath tests to detect alcohol only take 30 seconds, roadside drug tests take up to five minutes to show the results. If the swab test comes up positive, you will be taken to a mobile testing unit for further testing.
If that test comes up positive, you will be prohibited from driving for 24 hours, and the sample will be sent away for further testing. If further testing reveals the presence of drugs in your system, you will usually receive a summons requiring you to attend court.
What are the penalties for drug driving?
The formal charge for drug driving is known as driving with the presence of an illicit substance, and it is a relatively new charge compared with other traffic offences like drink driving or dangerous driving.
Charges for driving with drugs in your system don’t work in the same way as drink driving charges, in that there is no scale of severity depending on the results of the tests and how much alcohol is detected. When you are detected with drugs in your system, even if it’s just a minimal amount, you can potentially face the same penalties as someone who was found with a lot more in their system.
If you are found guilty of drug driving, you could face anything from a fine to imprisonment, depending on whether you have any previous convictions and how many substances were found in the tests. Whether or not you were involved in an accident will also be taken into consideration when deciding on a penalty. There’s a good chance that if you are convicted, you will be disqualified from driving unless you are able to obtain a Section 10 order.