South East Queensland's most experienced traffic law firm

Brisbane | Gold Coast | Sunshine Coast

There seems to be some amount of confusion as to whether or not you can commit a drink driving charge in Queensland within a private are such as your driveway, or in a, say a private place such as a car park. We are often contacted by people who believe they should not have been charged with a drink driving charge as they were not on a road at the time of the offence. In Queensland the legislation is fairly clear when it comes to drink driving. The police have to essentially prove three things to obtain a conviction for a drink driving offence The first is the fact that the person had alcohol in their system, the second is that they were the driver or in charge of the vehicle at the time of the offence. The last thing that must be proven is where the offence occurred.  The legislation provides that the drink driving an offence can be committed can be committed on or upon a road or elsewhere.

 

Section 4 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act defines a road and elsewhere to mean any place other than a road, so in essence the definition where a drink driving offence can occur is on a road, or in any place other than a road. So you can see that there is no place where you can be driving and not be potentially charged with a drink driving charge. Interesting, a motor vehicle may still be considered a motor vehicle even if it is impossible to drive, although there are occasions where a person is caught in charge of a motor vehicle that is not actually driving a motor vehicle, but occupying the front seat of the vehicle, or being in charge by way of the fact that they have access to the vehicle and was shown intention to drive.

 

If you need any information on drink driving in Queensland visit our drink driving page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/drink-driving  or call 1300 952 255

 

%AM, %07 %073 %2018 %10:%Feb

Immediate suspension for drink driving

Drink driving legislation in Queensland now provides that any person who is charged with a drink driving offence that is a mid-range or high-range offence will immediately lose the ability to drive. Those persons who have a low-range drink driving charge only have a 24-hour prohibition on driving after being arrested.  A low range drink driving offence applies to readings between .05 and .099, a mid range drink driving offence applies for readings between .1 and .149 and a high range drink driving offence is anything above that.

 

People who have received an immediate suspension notice from the police will often suffer a huge shock to both work and personal life arising from the inability to continue to drive. While it’s true in Queensland, we have mandatory periods of disqualification, the impact should not be overlooked.

 

The legislation does provide some levels of relief to the impact on the loss of a person's licence. The first area in which the legislation provides some relief is that the period of suspension that a person has served under the notice may be taken into account by the Magistrate when setting the disqualification period for the drink driving charge. This does not mean that the disqualification that the court sets will run from the date of arrest, it will still run from the day that the Magistrate disqualifies the person's licence, however in setting the penalty the Magistrate may take into an account the period that a person has spent off the road.

 

This is meant to work in the following way. If the Magistrate was considering imposing a disqualification of two months and the person had already been suspended for a period of one month, then the Magistrate should set a penalty of one month only.

 

In practise, the period of time a person has spent under suspension may very well be taken into account by the Magistrate but each Magistrate treats that period of suspension quite differently. As the legislation doesn't provide that the Magistrate must lower the disqualification as a result of the person's immediate suspension period, simply then it may be taken into account, each Magistrate will use their own judgement as to how much they take into account the immediate suspension period.

 

The other way the legislation provides some relief is that where a person is challenging a drink driving charge or applying for a work licence, then, under the act you are able to apply to the court for an immediate return of your licence. The requirements for the application are very similar to a work licence application in that a person must file an affidavit of themselves and an application form. This is known as a Section 79E Application. Further information could be found on our website at www.drivinglaw.com.au/blog/item/3-all-you-need-to-know-about-section-79e-applications.html

 

In practise this type of application is generally of most use where a person's court date for the hearing of a work licence application is some time in the future. For instance, Southport Magistrate's Court will not hear work licences on the first court date, so for example, say you had a mid-range drink driving charge and were immediately suspended and your first court date was three weeks into the future, then you will be suspended for the period up until your first court date plus whatever period runs from the date of your first court date to when the application for work licence is actually heard. This would generally be at least a week or two after the initial court date as Southport Magistrate Court only hear work licence applications on Tuesdays at 9am.

 

To mitigate that period of suspension, a person could lodge an application for a Section 79E Licence prior to the first court date and seek the ability to continue to drive up until the Magistrate ultimately deals with the entirety of the work licence application which as stated above, may be five weeks after the arrest.

 

There are strict timelines applying for people who are wanting to apply for a section 79E Licence and as such you need to take immediate legal advice should this be something you wish to pursue.

 

Finally, we need to discuss the consequences of driving whilst on the immediate suspension. The law is extremely harsh in this regard. If you are caught driving whilst immediately suspended and before the court ultimately rules on your drink driving offence, then that driving will be treated as essentially driving whilst disqualified and will attract a minimum licence disqualification of two years. This would then be added on top of any period of disqualification you may receive for your drink driving charge.

 

We have had many examples where clients have recorded a drink driving charge, been arrested, then released and have immediately gone back to their car and started to drive again.  As they breach the immediate suspension, their disqualification period can end up being in excess of three years when the drink driving disqualification is added on, especially where they have returned to the car still over the legal limit for driving.

 

In those cases the potential three-year disqualification cannot be mitigated by applying for a work licence as the driving under the immediate suspension charge eliminates that possibility.

 

For more information contact us on 1300 952 255. We appear in Southeast Queensland Courts every week conducting traffic matters such as drink driving, drug driving and disqualified driving. We can assist you should you be needing a 79E licence or work licence, or simply where you have a drink driving charge.

 

This article is subject to our disclaimer notice which can be read at www.drivinglaw.com.au/disclaimer.html

 

We recently appeared in the Sandgate Court for a client facing the real prospects of a prison sentence. The client had been charged with unlicensed driving due to a previous court ordered disqualification and high range drink driving or driving UIL (also sometimes referred to as a DUI).

 

Making the situation much worse for the client is that he had, in the words of the Magistrate, a terrible history that included eight previous disqualified driving charges and seven previous drink driving (UIL) charges. In the previous five years there were two high range drink driving charges alone. As a result of the legislation where a person has three high range drink driving charges within five years, a prison sentence must form part of the penalty imposed by the Magistrate. This doesn't mean that a person will necessarily go to jail, but it means a jail sentence will be imposed and the question will then become whether or not they should get an immediate parole release date.

 

In our client's circumstance, we had to fight very hard to try and keep him out of jail. Specifically, we were seeking that the court impose a jail sentence for the drink driving charge with an immediate parole release meaning the client would be released from the court that day with a jail sentence hanging over their head should they breach their parole.

 

We also had to deal the disqualified driving charge and in that circumstance we sought a probation order so that in essence, the client would be on a parole and a probation order at the same time.

 

Ultimately, we were able to convince the Magistrate to do this given that the client clearly had a long standing alcohol abuse issues, even though he had never sought treatment in the past. One of the things that was the most concerning for the Magistrate was that he had spent time in jail for the exact same charges two years ago. Therefore, our job was made particularly difficult as we could not argue that a jail sentence with actual imprisonment was not an appropriate sentence because that had previously been imposed by an earlier court for the exact same charges.

 

The client did not help himself in that he failed to obtain the type of references that we had suggested that he obtain and had not done any of the driving courses that we had suggested. We did have the client assessed by the Probation and Parole Officer at Sandgate Court and ultimately they informed the court that there were courses and structures that could be put in place to try and minimise the likelihood that the client would reoffend. The Magistrate said that she was faced with a difficult task in that deterrence is the number one issue for the court. That is deterrence specifically of our client from committing these offences again and deterrence of anyone else committing this offence. If a too light a sentence is imposed then deterrence of our client may not be effective and deterrence of the general public committing the same type of offences would also be diminished.

 

Ultimately, we were able to convince the Magistrate not to send our client to jail. But it was perhaps the closest you can come to a potential prison sentence without actually being sent to jail. Our client will now be subject to quite close and strict supervision by Probation and Parole to try and ensure that he does offend again.  If he does offend in the next year he could be sent to prison for 28 days for breaching his parole order with further punishment likely.

 

There are some important lessons to learn from this type of offending and that is, it is important for a person to ensure that they have done everything prior to the court case possible to try and convince the Magistrate that they deserve a further chance by not being sent to jail. The other lesson to be learned is that disqualified driving especially where it combined with a drink driving charge (UIL) will be treated seriously by the Courts and there is a high possibly of receiving actual prison time for these types of offences, especially where like our client, the traffic history is poor.

 

If you need any information on drink driving offences or disqualified driving offences please contact us on 1300 952 255.  We appear in all courts in South East Queensland from Southport to Gympie.  

 

%AM, %04 %987 %2017 %08:%May

Special Hardship Orders v Work Licences

We are asked everyday by people whether they can get a work licence, day licence or special hardship licence if they are disqualified by the courts or about to be.

In Queensland there are only two licences to allow a person to drive during a period of licence disqualification or suspension, these are work licences and special hardship licences.

A work licence is only available to people who are charged with a drink or drug driving offence and need to drive for work purposes.  The Government however only allows certain people to apply for a work licence.  To apply for a work licence you must be on an open Queensland drivers licence and the alcohol reading must be no more than .149.  You cannot apply if in the last five years you have had your licence suspended (unless it’s a SPER suspension), cancelled or disqualified.  This applies regardless of your circumstances (eg. You will lose your job, you can’t get your children to school etc). A work licence must be applied for at the time of sentencing for the drink or drug driving charge, it cannot be applied for later.  For full details on applying for a work licence see our work licence page.

A special hardship licence is only available to Queensland open or provisional licence holder who elect to go on a good driving period and lose 2 or more demerit points during that one year period.  A special hardship can also be applied for people who drive more than 40 km/h over the speed limit (high speed offence).  Like a work licence a person with a disqualification or suspension of the licence in the last 5 years cannot apply (a SPER suspension is an exception).  Unlike a work licence a Court can allow a person to drive for things other than for work purposes.  These need to be extreme circumstances such as on-going specialist, medical or counselling appointments.

The rules for a special hardship licence application are very complex, more details can be found on our special hardship licence page.

There are no licences available if you have already been disqualified by a Court and subsequently find you need a licence nor are there licences available if you have been charged with offences such as demerit point unlicensed driving.  If you do not qualify for a work licence or special hardship licence and are facing a disqualification by the courts then you will not be allowed to drive during that disqualification.

 

This area of law is changing constantly and you should get good legal help if you need to apply for a work licence or special hardship licence.

This article is written by Steven Brough one of Queensland’s most experienced traffic lawyers and contains general advice only not legal advice.  For more information on work licences and special hardship orders visit the driving law website or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week.  

This article is for general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Dangerous driving or more properly known as dangerous operation of a motor vehicle is one of the most serious traffic offences a person can be faced with in Queensland.  Often the charge results from a traffic accident where the driver at fault has driven in a dangerous manner.  Tragically often the tiniest mistake by a driver can lead to a person suffering death or grievous bodily harm and the driver who often has never broken the law before forced to navigate the court system.

The purpose of this article is to give some information to a person faced with a charge of dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm.

 

Are there different levels of dangerous driving?

In Queensland there are three levels of dangerous driving

·         Dangerous driving

·         Dangerous driving causing bodily harm

·         Dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm or death

Dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm or death is obviously the most serious of the offences.  The offence is even more serious if at the time the driver was adversely affected by drugs or alcohol.

 

What is dangerous driving?

The expression "operates a vehicle dangerously" in general does not require any given state of mind on the part of the driver as that driver may believe he or she is driving carefully yet be guilty of operating a vehicle dangerously. "Dangerously" is given its ordinary meaning of something that presents a real risk of injury or damage.  The ordinary meaning of ‘dangerous’ is ‘fraught with or causing danger; involving risk; perilous; hazardous; unsafe’. It describes, when applied to driving, a manner or speed of driving which gives rise to a risk to others, including motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and the driver’s own passengers.

 

What is grievous bodily harm

 “grievous bodily harm” is defined to mean

(a) the loss of a distinct part or organ of the body;

OR

(b) serious disfigurement;

OR

(c) any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health

It is immaterial whether or not medical treatment is or could have been available to the injured person.

 

What type of accidents can result in a dangerous driving charge?

A charge for dangerous driving often results from split second errors in judgement.  We have in the past acted for people who have been charged with dangerous driving for;

1.       Failing to see a motorcycle before entering an intersection

2.       Being temporarily distracted causing the car to run off the road into the other lane of traffic

3.       Falling asleep at the wheel resulting in a collision with a power pole and serious injuries to the passenger in the car

4.       Turning too sharply on a dirt road causing the vehicle to roll and cause injury to a passenger in the vehicle

5.       Driving at excessive speed

In most cases if no person had been injured the driver may only have faced a careless driving charge.

 

What court will hear the charge?

Whilst all matters start in the Magistrates Court the charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death or grievous bodily harm can only be finalised in the District Court.  For people in Brisbane this would mean the matter would start in the Brisbane Magistrates Court but would need to be transferred to the Brisbane District Court to finalise.  The Gold Coast has a District Court at Southport, the Sunshine Coast has a District Court at Maroochydore.  There is also a District Court at Beenleigh.

 

Who prosecutes the charges?

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will prosecute the matter but will rely on the Queensland Police Service to investigate the matter and obtain the evidence.

 

Are there any defences?

Defences to a charge of dangerous driving might include:

1.       The driving was in fact not dangerous, for example the condition of the road or the vehicle caused the accident.

2.       Necessity, for example the driver had to drive as a result of an emergency

3.       The accused was wrongly identified as the driver

A lawyer would be required to properly advise as to what defences might be available.  If you plead not guilty to the charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle driving causing death or grievous bodily harm because you have a defence then the matter will go to a trial before a jury.

 

How long will the charge take to resolve?

It all depends on whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty.  Typically for a guilty plea in the Brisbane Court it might take 6-8 months from the arrest to when it is finalised in the Brisbane District Court. 

 

Will the charge result in a jail sentence?

It all depends on what happened, whether alcohol or drugs were involved and the extent of the injuries to the victim.  In most cases you can expect a prison sentence if you plead guilty or are found guilty after a trial for a charge of dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm.

 

How long will the licence disqualification be for?

The disqualification period must be at least 6 months but depending on the circumstance of the charge and the traffic history perhaps much longer.  It is not possible to obtain a work licence or hardship licence to allow you to drive during the disqualification.

 

 

This article is written by Steven Brough one of Queensland’s most experienced traffic lawyers and contains general advice only not legal advice.  For more information on Dangerous Driving visit the driving law website or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week.  This article is for general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

%AM, %17 %095 %2017 %11:%Jan

High Range DUI

There are three different levels of drink driving for an Queensland open licence driver:

 

Low - .05-.099

Mid - .1-.149

High - .15 and above

 

If you are charged with a high range drink driving charge in Queensland (also known as DUI or UIL) the mandatory minimum disqualification, for a first time offender, is 6 months. Obviously your penalty will vary based on your exact alcohol reading, your traffic history, personal circumstances and the Magistrate handling your case. For more information see our link www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/drink-driving.html

 

Whilst it is a given that someone charged with a high range drink driving charge is going to get a more severe penalty than that of a low or mid-range offender there is also other repercussions that result from a high range drink driving charge.

 

You will not be able to apply for a work licence

 Work licences can only available to low to mid-range drink drivers. Regardless of your situation there is no way around this. There are other requirements you must meet to be eligible. For more information on this please see www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/work-licences.html

 

 

You will be subject to an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device

Anyone charged in Queensland with a high range drink driving charge (or 2 low or mid-range drink driving charges within 5 years) will be subject to having an alcohol ignition interlock device fitted to their vehicle at the conclusion of their suspension. The alcohol ignition interlock device is similar to a breath test device and is connected to your vehicles ignition. You must blow into with a zero alcohol limit before your vehicle will start. You will need to have the alcohol ignition interlock device for a minimum of 1 year.

The alcohol ignition interlock device needs to be installed by an approved provider and costs vary depending on your vehicle size and if you are a pensioner.  You will incur the costs associated with the rental, installation, servicing and removal of the interlock from your nominated vehicle. 

If at the end of your suspension period you decide not to have an alcohol ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, you will be unable to drive for a further 2 years from the date your Court suspension ended.

Whilst there are grounds for an exemption, there are few and it is difficult to obtain. Grounds of exemption can be if you are residing in a remote location (over 150kms from an alcohol ignition interlock installer) or living on an island, have a medical condition preventing you from being able to use the device or you have extenuating circumstances. Please note that extenuating circumstances cannot be that you are unable to install the interlock for employment or financial reasons. 

If you are facing a high range drink driving charge it is important to have an experienced Lawyer represent you to ensure you obtain the absolute shortest suspension period and fine possible.

 

Getting legal representation

Here at Clarity Law we represent drink 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.  Every week we appear in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast courts helping clients with drink driving offences.

For more information visit our drink driving page or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week

 

Disclaimer:

The information provided is for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing in this article without seeking the advice of a lawyer. Moreover, because the law is constantly changing, the information appearing in this article are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.  Steven and Clarity law only undertake matters in Queensland.

 

Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

We often get calls from people needing a special hardship licence for work purposes who also desire to be able to drive their children to school or other activities under that hardship licence.

First a bit of background, a special hardship licence or special hardship order is a licence that may be available to people who exceed their demerit points, elect to go on a 12 month good driving behaviour period and then during that period incur further demerit points.  In those circumstances unless a person applies for a special hardship licence then they will have their licence suspended for a minimum of 6 months and be unable to drive.  A person who has their licence suspended for exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 km/h (a high speed suspension) may also be eligible to apply for a special hardship licence. For more information about special hardship licences see our webpage - www.drivinglaw.com.au/hardship-licences.html

The special hardship licence is only available to people who are on a Queensland open or provisional licence and who have in the previous 5 years not had a licence suspension or disqualification (excluding SPER suspensions).

The special hardship licence is available where if the court were not to grant the order the applicant or their family would;

1.       suffer extreme hardship by depriving them of the means of earning a living; or

2.       suffer severe and unusual hardship for some other reason

To apply for a special hardship licence a person must lodge affidavits for themselves and their employer (if they are not self-employed) and must appear in their local court before a Magistrate to argue for the special hardship licence to be granted. For information on the timeline of a special hardship application see our previous article www.drivinglaw.com.au/blog/item/6-special-hardship-application-time-frames.html

In most cases it is relatively easy to establish that a person would suffer financial hardship if they lost their licence and as a result could not work.  What is much tougher is being able to establish that a person would suffer severe and unusual hardship if they could not drive their children to school or other activities.

It is important to note that a special hardship licence is not a licence to be able to drive whenever a person desires, the order for the special hardship licence, if granted by the Magistrate, will restrict the hours, days, reasons and places a person can drive.  The order will also restrict who a person can have in the car with them.  Therefore to be able to drive children a person would need to first convince the court that they or their family would suffer severe and unusual hardship if not able to drive the children and if that is established then the court will need to specify exactly where and when the children could be driven.

The general attitude of most Queensland Magistrates is that they will not grant a person the ability to drive their children to school or other activities. To be able to convince the Magistrate to grant the right to drive children to school generally a person would have to prove that;

1.        There is no public transport available to transport the children to school;

2.       There is no one else who could drive the children i.e a partner or family member (further Affidavits on behalf of these people may be required in some circumstances);

3.       The hours the parents work is such that driving the children to school is the only viable option to get them to school; or

4.       The children have special needs that means driving them to school is the only option.

 

When it comes to being able to drive the children to sporting or other activates the courts are even more reluctant to allow this.  Generally a person would only be able to drive their children to these activities if they could prove that

1.       The children have special needs such that the sporting or other activities help with or

2.       The children are competing at such a high level that if the parents cannot drive them they are likely to suffer severe and unusual hardship

 

The court would be looking for affidavit evidence from a doctor or a coach confirming the need to drive the children.

Due to the complexity of special hardship licence application, especially when requesting the licence to cover children’s needs it is important to engage a professional to represent you.

Clarity Law is Queensland’s leading traffic law firm covering every court is South East Queensland.

We undertake special hardship applications 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 either;

For more information visit our drink driving page or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week

Disclaimer:

The information provided is for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing in this article without seeking the advice of a lawyer. Moreover, because the law is constantly changing, the information appearing in this article are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.  Steven and Clarity law only undertake matters in Queensland.

 

Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Whist careless driving (also known as driving with undue care and attention) and dangerous driving charges can result from similar circumstances this is not the case with the penalties with the potential penalty for dangerous driving being much more serious. Both charges can be accompanied with a drink or drug driving charge if the driver tests positive.

 

Careless driving is the less serious of the two charges as it is traffic charge, not a criminal charge, although it can still be punishable with a jail sentence. Depending on circumstances it is possible to obtain a result of no disqualification being put on your licence, although it does carry a mandatory loss of 3 demerit points if you plead guilty or are deemed to be guilty. Should you be on a good driving behaviour period and the 3 point loss will breach it you may be eligible for a special hardship licence – for more information see our website - http://drivinglaw.com.au/hardship-licences.html

 

Careless driving charges can come about from an incident as minor as skidding in the wet and your car hitting a gutter or a tree or having a collision due to being distracted by the radio or attending to an item they may have dropped.  Careless driving can also include accidents with pedestrians or other road users resulting in injuries to those people.  Drivers charged with this are believed to have been not paying enough attention to the road, not actually driving what is deemed to be 'dangerous'.  

 

Dangerous driving is the higher of the two charges and is in fact one of the few traffic related charge which is a criminal charge.

 

Dangerous driving charges occur when a driver was deemed to have driver a motor vehicle dangerously.  In deciding whether the driving was dangerous the court looks at the speed the vehicle was driven and whether the driving was dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances including:

 

(a)   the nature, condition and use of the place; and

(b)   the nature and condition of the vehicle; and

(c)    the number of persons, vehicles or other objects that are, or might reasonably be expected to be, in the place; and

(d)   the concentration of alcohol in the drivers blood; and

(e)   the presence of any other substance in the drivers body.

 

It is always a good idea to seek legal advice if you are charged with either careless driving but especially so for a dangerous driving charge.

 

Depending on the circumstances of a dangerous driving charge, witnesses, damage etc it can be possible to case conference/ put submissions to the Police Prosecutions to have the charge lowered to careless driving if there are reasonable grounds. This is assessed by obtaining the police court brief.

 

For more information see our website  - www.drivinglaw.com.au/dangerous-driving.html

 

Here at Clarity Law we represent 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 call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week

 

Disclaimer:

The information provided is for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing in this article without seeking the advice of a lawyer. Moreover, because the law is constantly changing, the information appearing in this article are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.  Steven and Clarity law only undertake matters in Queensland.

 

Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

 

 

%AM, %19 %082 %2016 %10:%Mar

Drug Driving Charges Skyrocket

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.

%PM, %25 %126 %2015 %12:%Nov

The Different Types of Drug Driving

Similar to drink driving charges which are categorised as either low, medium or high range, drug driving has different categories in which you can be charged under.

If you are charged with drug driving you will either be charged with having a relevant drug in your system or, and more seriously, driving whilst under the influence of a drug.

The drug driving tests look for traces of the following drugs being relevant in your system:

1.       THC – the active ingredient in cannabis

2.       Methylamphetamine – also known as speed and ice; and

3.       MDMA – the active ingredient in ecstasy.

 

Although the police can require a blood test to test for drug driving the most common way to test is through taking a sample of a person’s saliva.

If the preliminary saliva test is negative you will be free to go immediately. If a drug is detected in your saliva (positive result) you will be required to undertake a second saliva test. If the second test is again positive for drugs your driver’s license will be suspended for 24 hours. The remaining saliva sample will be sent to a laboratory and following the result you may be notified and charged with a traffic offence of drug driving. A person caught with these drugs in their system will normally be charged with driving whilst a relevant drug is in the system.

If the results of a drug driving test comes back positive it is irrelevant whether you’re driving was affected by having illicit drugs in your system. This means that for example, if you consume marijuana a couple of weeks before being tested you will still be charged with drug driving if the results are positive (marijuana can stay in your system for up to 40 days). However, saliva tests are designed only to react to the active ingredient of a drug. Therefore the period in which drugs can be detected varies depending on quality and quantity of the drug that has been ingested, the period of time since taking the drug and the frequency of use of the drug.

 

Driving whilst under the influence of a drug

You are likely to be charged with driving under the influence of a drug if you are pulled over by the police and appear to be under the influence of a drug eg. Red eyes, slurred speech, twitchy etc. If the Police believe you are under the influence of a dangerous drug or even a synthetic drug (for more information on this see our article about synthetic drugs) it is likely that they would search your vehicle. Quite often we have clients who are charged with possession of a dangerous drug and/or utensils and drug driving at the same time.

It is also possible to be charged with driving under the influence of a prescription drug if the police believe you have been affected to such a degree by the prescription pills that you pose a risk to other road users.

If you are charged with this offence your licence will be suspended immediately. You cannot apply for a work licence and face at least a 6 month disqualification.

 

 

Having a relevant drug in your system

If you undergo a drug driving test and it comes back positive but you appear to be sober you will be charged with having a relevant drug in your system.  This is the lesser of the two drug driving charges. When you are charged with having a relevant drug in your system your licence will be suspended for a 24 hour period.

If you are charged with having a relevant drug in your system, depending on circumstances, you are eligible to apply for a work licence.

 

This article is written by Steven Brough.  Steven has over 14 years experience dealing with this type of charge and appearing in Queensland Courts.  You can ring Steven on 1300 952 255 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our traffic law website at www.drivinglaw.com.au

 

Disclaimer:

The information provided is for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing in this article without seeking the advice of a lawyer. Moreover, because the law is constantly changing, the information appearing in this article are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.  Steven and Clarity law only undertake matters in Queensland.

Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

 

 

 

Page 1 of 2