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Monday, 07 September 2015 19:08

Drug Driving on Synthetic Drugs

Driving whilst under the influence of a drug is illegal in Queensland and this includes synthetic drugs.

Synthetic drugs are designed to mimic the effects of regular drugs, alter your mind, and therefore affect your ability to drive in the same way.

There is currently a blanket ban in Queensland on the possession and/or sale of synthetic drugs or any substance that is designed to have a psychoactive effect other than alcohol.

Currently Queensland police are able to take swabs at the roadside of a person’s salvia to see whether illegal drugs have been consumed.  This drug test however only tests for marijuana, methamphetamines and MDMA.  It is likely that a person who consumed a synthetic drug would pass this test.

If you are drug tested and pass the Police, if they reasonably believe you are affected by drugs they are still able to order you to undergo a blood test. If you refuse you may be charged with failing to provide a specimen and drug driving. Failing to provide a specimen charge will result in a more severe penalty than a high reading.

One major issue with being charged with drug driving with a synthetic drug in your system is that you will be considered to be driving under the influence this means that;

  • You face a minimum of 6 months disqualification of your licence
  • You cannot apply for a work licence
  • A conviction being recorded may affect your ability to easily travel to another country especially the USA and Canada.

One bizarre outcome of the legislation is that often people caught by the salvia test with MDMA, Marijuana or methamphetamines can be charged not with driving under the influence but with driving with a relevant drug in the system and if that is done a person faces a minimum of 1 month disqualification and they can apply for a work licence.

If you have a drug charge then please contact us for more information or visit our drug driving page

Monday, 07 September 2015 19:08

Evading Police

The charge of evading police is an extremely serious charge with the Queensland Government enacting some of the toughest legislation in the country.  The government have shown a continued desire to see people jailed for evading the police, recent charges to the legislation have caused more confusion as to what exactly the punishment for the offence should be.

 

What is evading police?

Section 754 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 provides that to be charged with evading police the driver of a motor vehicle must have failed stop the motor vehicle as soon as reasonably practicable after a police officer has directed them and a reasonable person would have stopped the motor vehicle in the circumstances.

Generally the offence would occur when a police officer in a police vehicle attempts to stop a driver who fails to do so within a reasonable time and thus evades police.

 

What is the punishment for evading police?

This is not as easy a question to answer as it should be.  When the legislation was first drafted it provided the penalty as;

Minimum penalty—50 penalty units.

Maximum penalty—200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment

This meant that the court had to impose either a fine of $5,000 (a penalty unit was then $100) or a term of imprisonment.  In the case of Commissioner of Police Service (Qld) v Magistrate Spencer & Ors [2013] QSC the court found that they could impose probation and no fine meaning the accused would not have to pay the $5,000 and apart from complying with the probation terms would not have to serve time in jail.

After this case the Government changed the law so the penalty was then;

Minimum penalty— 50 penalty units or 50 days imprisonment served wholly in a corrective services  facility.

Maximum penalty—200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.

 

On the face of it the law would seem to require the court to impose a fine of $5,500 (the penalty unit has increased since the law was changed to $110) or to impose 50 days imprisonment which must be served in a jail.

Cases decided since the change have found that the change in law still does not prevent the court from imposing probation or community service rather than actual jail or a fine of $5,500.

It is certain that this area of law will continue to evolve as further cases are decided or the Government amends the legislation further but as it currently stands the court can either impose a fine of at least $5,500 or may be able to impose community service or probation rather than requiring people to serve time in jail.  Of course in the right circumstances the court may choose not to impose probation and instead send the driver to jail for 50 days.

The law also provides a minimum drivers licence disqualification of 2 years and unfortunately the court cannot grant a work licence or hardship licence.

Evading police is also classed as a type 1 hooning charge which can have quite severe consequences.   For the first Type 1 offence, the vehicle can be impounded or immobilised for 90 days. For the second offence the vehicle can be impounded and may be confiscated at the end of any legal proceedings against you, 

 

Are there any defences to the charge of evading police?

Some possible defences might be that;

  1. the driver stopped the vehicle as soon as practical
  2. a reasonable person would not have stopped the vehicle in the circumstances
  3. the police officer was not in a police vehicle at the time of the direction to stop
  4. someone else was driving the vehicle
  5. the direction to stop was not given clearly and the driver did not realise they were directed to stop

This is very complicated area of law and you will need legal advice to determine if you have any defences.

 

I’ve received an evasion notice because my car was invoiced in a police chase

If the police are unable to intercept the vehicle then they may choose to serve an evasion offence notice on the registered owner of the motor vehicle.  If that occurs the owner of the motor vehicle has 4 business days to give a declaration to the police otherwise they will be deemed to be the driver of the vehicle involved in the evasion offence.

It is critical to respond to the evasion notice within the time limits and to get legal advice about that declaration.

  

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me?

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 8pm

 

This article is written by Steven Brough one of Queensland’s most experienced traffic lawyers and contains general advice only not legal advice.   The law or legal interpretation of the law may have changed since this article was written.

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