In Queensland police are increasingly undertaking drug driving tests in conjunction with normal drink driving RBT units. Police officers who are able to conduct the drug testing need to be specially trained in the use of saliva testing equipment and testing procedures. The number of Police that are now qualified to conduct the drug tests has increased dramatically in the last few years as well as the addition of 13 specially built drug testing vehicle to Queensland roads. There is going to be an increasing amount of drug driving charges.
For example the amount of drug driving tests for the last 3 years include;
2014 - 21,000 drivers were drug tested in Queensland
2015 – 33,000 drivers were drug tested in Queensland
2016 – It has been estimated that over 50,000 drivers will be tested in Queensland
The roadside drug driving tests are carried out by taking a swab of a driver’s salvia. The tests are designed to pick up the following illegal drugs;
1. THC – the active component in cannabis
2. Methylamphetamine – also known as speed, ice or crystal meth
3. MDMA – also known as speed
A person caught with these drugs in their system will normally be charged with driving with a relevant drug in the system. When you are charged with this offence your licence will usually be suspended for a 24 hour period. Depending on your circumstances and traffic history it is possible to apply for a work licence if you are charged with driving with a drug in your system.
If the driver appears to be under the influence at the time they are driving or is believed to be affected by a drug to such an extent that they are endangering the public they will be charged with the higher of the two drug charges being, driving under the influence of a drug. If you are charged with this offence your licence will be suspended immediately up until your matter is dealt with by the Court. If you receive a driving whilst under the influence of drugs charge you cannot apply for a work licence. Further, if you are believed to be under the influence it is not uncommon for the Police to then search your vehicle for drugs or drug paraphernalia.
It is also possible to be charged with driving under the influence of drugs if you are driving a vehicle with legal drugs in their system, that being legally prescribed medication. The decision is made at the police’s discretion as to whether they believe the drugs have affected the person to such a degree that their driving was impaired.
If the police suspect a person has been impaired they may be required to give a sample of their blood for further testing. At the time a blood test is taken you are allowed to request that the Police provide you with a sample of your blood so you can have it tested independently.
A key component to proving the charge in court will be the statement of the arresting officer and their observations of the driver as well as the saliva or blood test results, which are confirmed in a drug analysis certificate. The blood test will generally report the amount of the drug in the person’s blood as well as any comments from a medical officer as to what impairment an ordinary person would have with that level of drugs in the system.
A refusal to provide a drug test will result in a charge of failing to provide a drug test. This is a serious charge and is dealt with harshly by the Courts. If you are charged with failing to provide a sample you will be dealt with as if you were under the influence.
A person who pleads guilty or is found guilty of the UIL charge is subject to the same punishment as a high range drink driver that is a minimum of 6 months disqualification of their drivers licence and no ability to apply for a work licence.
Queensland has some of the harshest penalties for drug drivers in both fines and suspension periods. It is critical to get good advice about the charge and whether you might be able to apply for a work licence. Information on applying for a work licence can be found on our work licence page.
Here at Clarity Law we represent drug driving charges in Courts across South East Queensland every day, it is this experience, and our expertise that allows us to get the absolute best result for clients. Other law firms simply don’t have the experience that we do and don’t know the process and the Magistrates like we do. We also offer the most competitive prices in Queensland that are all fixed fee so there are no nasty surprises when you receive your invoice. If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week. Check out our drug driving charge for more information.
Disclaimer – this article contains general advice only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. We are also not health professionals and our observations on drug driving is based on our knowledge of representing hundreds of drug driving client’s overs the past 15 years and not any specific medical training.