Drug Driving offences in QLD
Drug driving is similar to drink driving but instead of alcohol being present in the blood, a person is charged with driving while drugs are present in the blood.
A person can either be charged with driving while under the influence of a drug (“UID”) or driving while a relevant drug is present in blood or saliva. Drug driving offences are heard in the Magistrate Courts.
A UID offence is treated the same as an offence of driving under the influence of alcohol. The maximum penalty that applies to this type of offence is therefore a fine of up to $2,800 or imprisonment of up to 9 months, along with a licence disqualification of at least 6 months. An offence of driving while a relevant drug is present in blood or saliva is treated as a much less serious offence.
If you are stopped suspected of driving while taking drugs the police officer will ask you to give a saliva sample. This is used to detect THC which is the ingredient found in cannabis, methylamphetamine, which is commonly known as speed and ice, MDMA which is the main ingredient in ecstasy. Methamphetamine is made from substances like pseudoephedrine which is found in cold and flu tablets but these substances are not detected through saliva tests.
The painless saliva test takes three to five minutes and if it is negative you will not be detained. If the test is found to be positive, you will be escorted to a police vehicle for a 2nd saliva test. You will be suspended from driving for 24 hours if this 2nd test proves positive and the saliva sample will be further analysed in a laboratory. If the laboratory reveals a positive result, the driver will be informed and then charged with a drug driving traffic offence.
The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of up to $1,400 or imprisonment of up to 3 months along with a license disqualification of at least 1 – 3 months.
Drug driving offences are considered "Major Offences" under the law and thus attract heavy fines, periods of licence disqualification and possibly terms of imprisonment. If you have been charged with a traffic offence or are under Police investigation, it is important that you seek legal advice.