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.
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.
A special hardship licence is a type of licence that may be issued by a Queensland Court to persons who travel over the speed limit by more than 40kms over hour (high speed suspension) and/or exceed their points on a good driving behaviour period. There are no other circumstances in which you can apply for a special hardship licence. A special hardship licence allows you to drive during the suspension of your licence (generally 6 months).
A special hardship licence can only be used for the purposes stated by the Court; you cannot use a special hardship licence to drive to the shops, university, or unpaid work experience unless this is specified in the Order. A special hardship licence is designed to allow you to keep your job and continue to earn a living where a driver’s licence is an essential component to you earning that living or for some other specified serious reason.
Depending on which Magistrates Court your application is to be heard in depends when your application will be heard. Some Courts hear Special Hardship Application weekly, some fortnightly and some only monthly. Again, as it is a nominated Court application you may request a date for a month or two away if you need to for any reason.
When you receive a fine which breaches your good driving behaviour period you can continue to drive as normal up until mid-night before your suspension date. However you cannot drive after that time until you have filed your Application for a Special Hardship with the Court and QLD Transport. You have 21 days from the suspension date in which to do this.
The suspension date is allocated by Queensland Transport. When you make payment, part payment of your fine or the debt is referred to the State Penalties Enforcement Register (SPER), Queensland Transport is then notified that you have breached your Good Driving Behaviour period and that you need to be issued a suspension date. A letter is then sent out to you, usually 2-3 weeks after you make payment, part payment or the debt is referred to SPER. The suspension date will be on the letter and will generally be a further 2-3 weeks from when you receive the letter.
If you wish to hurry the process along than make payment or a part payment as soon as you can so that Queensland Transport will become aware and issue a suspension date sooner. If you wish to put it off than do not make payment or a part payment until the day before the fine is due.
It is critical to ensure Queensland Transport has your current postal address as it is an extremely important letter. If you are unaware of your suspension date and are caught driving you will be charged with unlicensed driving.
You can file the Application for a Special Hardship Licence and supporting material on your suspension date, which ensures that you are only unable to drive on that day until you have filed your application and material. It is also good to your application if you do file the application on the suspension date in that it shows that you are unable to go for a period of time without a licence.
If you chose not to file your application for a special hardship application on the first day of the suspension you only have 21 days from the suspension date to file your application for a special hardship licence there is absolutely nothing can be done if you exceed the 21 days.
The application and material needs to be filed with the Magistrates Court closest to where you reside, where you will be issued a Court date. Then you just need to attend the corresponding Queensland Transport office to serve them with copies of your application and material. Once that is done you may continue to drive, as normal, up until midnight before your Court date.
Having a Lawyer prepare and undertake your Special Hardship Licence Application is critical to ensure that your application is successful.
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 Special Hardship Applications visit the our Special Hardship Application webpage on our driving law website or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week
Depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading or drug driving status and what type of class licence you hold, in Queensland your licence may be suspended for 24 hours after you are charged with drink or drug driving or until your Court date.
Drink driving charge
For a driver on an open licence with a low range drink driving charge, between .051 and .099, you will usually be suspended for 24 hours, for a mid-range or higher (being anything over .1) you will usually be suspended up until your Court date.
The police will need to serve a notice of suspension on you and this notice will specify the length of the suspension.
Drug driving charge
For drug driving generally if you are charged with having a relevant drug in your system you will be suspended for 24 hours, however if you are charged with driving with a relevant drug in your system you will be suspended up until your Court date.
It is a small comfort to know that, in circumstances where you are suspended until your Court date, the time in which you are charged and therefore unable to drive up until your matter is dealt with by the Court will be taken into consideration by the Magistrate when sentencing you. For example, if your Court date is a month after you are charged the Magistrate will take this into account and usually sentence you to a month less than they would have if you had been able to drive since you were charged.
Driving during your suspension
If you are caught driving during your suspension period, being either the 24 hours after your charge or up until your Court date, the charge will be treated the same as a disqualified driving charge and will result in a mandatory minimum 2 year disqualification of your licence.
Further, whilst multiple traffic charge disqualification usually run concurrently any drink or drug driving charges will run cumulatively with any other driving charges.
We have numerous clients who are charged with a drink driving offence, and subsequently are suspended who leave the Police Station and go directly to their car to drive it home. Police are well aware that a lot of people do this and monitor it. The consequence are extreme and can result in, depending on the initial BAC or drug status charge a further drink or drug driving charge as the alcohol and/or drugs are still in the drivers system, as well as a mandatory cumulative suspension time for the disqualified driving charge.
Regardless of your situation and circumstances absolutely nothing can be done to obtain less than a minimum of 2 year disqualification for a suspended driving charge.
Another consequence of being charged twice in one night with drink driving is that you will then, at the end of your disqualification period be subject to an interlock system.
If you are sentenced by the Court for in excess of 2 years, after you have served the minimum 2 years you are able to apply for a licence reinstatement application. You should engage a Solicitor to undertake the application on your behalf as you are only allowed to apply once per year.
Here at Clarity Law we appear several times a week in the Courts with people charged with drink driving, it is this experience that allows us to get the best result for clients, every time. Other law firms simply don’t have the experience that we do and don’t know the Magistrates like we do. We also offer one of the most competitive prices for drink driving charges in Queensland click here to see what we will charge. If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
This article is written by Steven Brough one of Queensland’s most experienced traffic lawyers and contains general advice only not legal advice.
If you are charged with a drink driving charge with a reading between .1 and .149 your licence will be immediately suspended until your Court date. Depending on what Court you are due to appear in and how busy the Courts are at the time you are charged your Court date may be anywhere between 1 to 6 weeks away.
Depending on your traffic history and circumstances you may be eligible to apply for a work licence on your Court date. However, this leave you off the road from your charge date until your Court date or even a date after that. If you are applying for a work licence it is important to be aware that majority of Queensland Magistrates Court do not hear work licence applications on the initial Court date. Instead they adjourn them off for a date 1-4 weeks later.
The process for applying for a Section 79E licence is very similar to applying for a work licence in that we need to draft an Affidavit for you, and if you are not self-employed we also need to draft one for your employer. As an Affidavit is a legal Court documents the signatures on them need to be witnessed by a Lawyer or a Justice of the Peace.
We obtain you an urgent Court date for the application to be heard within about a week, depending on the Court’s availability. If you are successful you will be allowed to drive, for work purposes only, up until your Court date.
It is critical to remember that you only have 21 days from your charge date to apply for a Section 79E Licence.
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;
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
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  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, however that interpretation is under review from a number of Magstrates.
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;
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;
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.