Drug Driving Lawyer Brisbane

Drug Driving Lawyers Brisbane

Thank you for visiting our site, we have written this page as the ultimate guide to drug driving charges in Brisbane.  If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, or driving while a relevant drug is present, it is vital to have a trusted and experienced drug driving lawyer in Brisbane to guide you through the process and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

Penalties for drug driving vary depending on the type of drug driving offence, whether this is a first or subsequent offence, and if there are other extenuating circumstances such as an accident that occurred as a result of your driving. Our expert drug driving lawyers in Brisbane will help you navigate the complex legal system and provide you with comprehensive legal advice and representation for your drug driving charge.


What Happens if you caught drug driving in Brisbane?

Drug driving is a serious offence in Brisbane and throughout Queensland and if caught, it can have significant consequences for your driving licence and your life. This guide provides an overview of the types of drug driving charges and the penalties for drug driving that may imposed in the Brisbane Magistrates court.


Types of drug driving offences

There are two types of drug driving charges in Queensland:

  1. Driving with a Relevant Drug Present: This charge applies if any trace of a relevant drug is detected in your system. The police are not required to prove that there was a particular concentration of the relevant drug in your system at the time of driving, only that the drug was present. This means that even if you consumed marijuana a couple of days before being tested, you will still be charged with drug driving if the results are positive.
  2. Driving Under the Influence of a Drug: This is a more serious drug driving offence that requires police to show that you were intoxicated by a drug and that it was affecting your ability to operate the vehicle at the time of driving. You can be charged with driving under the influence of any type of drug, not just the relevant drugs mentioned below.



Driving with a relevant drug in your system

The is the lessor of the drug driving charges.  It is generally imposed where a salvia test shows up positive but the person is not otherwise showing any signs or of being affected by that drug.  It is the most common drug driving charge for a person who has taken drugs the night before or some days earlier and driven not feeling they are affected by drugs.

For an open licence holder with no previous disqualification in the last 5 years the minimum disqualification starts at 1 month and can go as high as 9 months.  In many cases a person in this situation could apply for a work licence.  The Brisbane Magistrates Court has certain rules when they will hear a work licence and you can contact us to discuss how a work licence application is heard.


What are the relevant drugs in Queensland?

In Queensland, relevant drugs are methylamphetamine, MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy), and THC (the active ingredient in cannabis). If a police officer detects any of these drugs in your system, you will face charges.


Driving under the influence of a drug

Driving under the influence of a drug (“DUI”) is the more serious of the drug driving charges in Queensland.  It is generally charged where a person is showing signs of being affected by drugs or where there is an accident and a blood sample is taken, tested and found to contain high levels of drugs.

The minimum disqualification period for this charge is 6 months, if the person has no previous convictions.  It is not possible to apply for a work licence or any type of hardship licence if you are charged with driving under the influence of a drug.

You can be charged with driving under the influence of any type of drug not just the ones tested for in the salvia test.  This means you can be charged with driving under the influence of legal prescription drugs.

Often we see this charge where a person is alleged to have shown Indica of being affected by drugs like;

  • The manner of driving
  • A person physical condition and appearance
  • Behaviour and attitude
  • A person’s eyes and breathing
  • Speech
  • Coordination
  • Memory
  • Health
  • Conduct at watch house or with police

Whilst the police would generally seek a salvia or blood test it is legal for them to charge someone for drug driving based on the driver’s indicia alone.


Drug driving penalties

Well thought out submissions and arguments before a magistrate can in our experience significantly reduce the length of your disqualification.   For first time offenders with no other charges before the court the court will look to fines and disqualifications as a penalty.  For repeat offenders the court will be looking at more serious penalties from probation to prison.  No matter the penalty it will always include a disqualification as in Queensland a minimum disqualification must be imposed unlike other states.  Whilst the court cannot not impose a licence disqualification they can in certain circumstances issue a work licence.

In Queensland a first time offender on an open licence charged with driving with a relevant drug in their system faces a possible 1-9 month disqualification and a fine.  For a learner, P plates, or unlicenced driver, the minimum penalty starts at 3 months. The Court of course has the power to increase the disqualification past the minimum.

For driving under the influence of a drug the minimum disqualification increases to 6 months.  We have a blog post with more information on drug driving penalties.

Aside from disqualifications, the other penalty to expect is a fine and then the court must decide whether to record a conviction that would show on your traffic history.



What can I do to reduce my penalty and disqualification period?

The best thing is obviously to engage an experienced drug driving lawyer that knows the Brisbane courts to act for you.  A lawyer knows what the Magistrates at Brisbane court needs to hear to get the lowest penalty possible.

Other things you can look to do is obtaining character references, where appropriate medical reports and completing the QTOP course.


Are there defences to a drug driving charge?

Most defences to a drug driving offence have now gone.  The tests the police carry out are considered to be accurate and are accepted by the courts.  The police must conduct the salvia or blood test within 3 hours of you driving and it must be conducted in accordance with the law.  If we are engaged we always look for any possible defences that may exist.  We have an article on all potential drug driving "loopholes".


What happens immediately after you have been arrested?

If you are caught driving with a relevant drug present in your system, your licence will be immediately suspended for 24 hours. During this time, you cannot drive, and if you do, you risk being charged with driving while suspended.


Can I get a work licence?

If you are charged with a driving with a relevant drug charge, then you may be able to get a work licence but this must be done at the time you appear in the court to plead guilty, it cannot be done afterwards.  A work licence application will require you to file a comprehensive affidavit of yourself setting out why you need a work licence, when and where you need to drive for work, your financial position and why the offence occurred.  You must also file an affidavit of your employer if you are not self-employed.

For more information on applying for a work licence if charged with drug driving go to our work licence webpage for more information.

If you are charged with driving under the influence of a drug (“DUI”) or are a P plater charged with driving with a relevant drug in your system  you cannot apply for a work licence or indeed any type of licence to keep driving during your disqualification. 


What will happen in court?

If you plead guilty, the Brisbane Magistrates court will usually deal with your matter immediately. The magistrate will read the charge to you and ask you how you plead. The magistrate may also ask you if you are entering the plea of your own free will. The police prosecutor will then read the outline of facts and give the magistrate copies of the drug analysis certificate, your criminal history and traffic history. The police prosecutor may also offer an opinion as to what penalties should be imposed on you.

After the prosecutor has spoken, the magistrate will give you an opportunity to speak. Your lawyer (or you if you don’t have a lawyer) will then put explain what occurred, why it occurred, the positive things you have done since the offence, your general good character and the impact the penalty including the disqualification will have on you. This is done to support asking the magistrate to give you the minimum penalty that can be argued for on the strength of those facts and circumstances.

The court will also consider any other material you might have obtained that will help reduce the penalty such as character references or completing a driving course such at Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (“QTOP”).

Once your lawyer has spoken, the magistrate may seek further clarification of certain matter from the police, from your lawyer, or from both. The magistrate will then convict you, impose a penalty and disqualify you from driving for a certain period of time. That licence disqualification takes effect immediately.

If you have applied for a work licence, the magistrate will indicate whether the application is granted. If it is granted the magistrate will state the conditions on which the licence is granted.

Once you are disqualified, you must immediately surrender your driver’s licence to the police prosecutor (unless you were granted a work licence). It is an offence to be in possession of your licence after you have been disqualified from driving.


When does the disqualification begin?

The disqualification starts immediately.  You would not be able to drive once you leave the Brisbane court.  If you are granted a work licence you can only drive in accordance with the court order.


What happens after my disqualification period?

After the period of disqualification has ended you will need to attend a Transport and Main Roads office and reapply for your licence.  You cannot simply start driving after your disqualification period has ended.  

After you have been disqualified for a drug driving offence you will be on a probationary licence for one year, this means that;

  1. You have only 4 demerit points available

You do not have to re-sit any tests to get your licence back if you were licenced at the time of the offence.

During your disqualification you cannot drive any motor vehicle for any reason.  If you do drive then you can be charged with disqualified driving which is a very serious charge.



How can I get more information about drug driving?

We have an even more comprehensive drug driving page with lots more information and tips. 



What legislation control’s drug driving in Queensland?

The Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995


I have been charged with drug driving while supervising a learner driver

As a supervisor of a learner you can be charged with drug driving as you are effectively in control of the vehicle.


I’m a P plater charged with drug driving and need a work licence

Unfortunately P platers cannot apply for a work licence.  Your best option is to try and minimise the disqualification period as much as possible.


I pleaded guilty online now the Brisbane Court has sent me a letter saying I must appear next week

You cannot plead guilty online to a drug driving charge.  The Brisbane court is wanting you to appear personally to deal with the drug driving charge.


I got caught drug driving years ago but never went to court

Its likely the drug driving charge is still pending before the court and an arrest warrant has been issued.  We can arrange to go with you to court, get the warrant recalled and then deal with the drug driving charge.


My 17 year old son has been charged with drug driving

We often act for newly licenced drivers charged with drug driving.

Any person under 18 is considered a child which means they will attend children’s court for the charge.

Recent case law provides a basis for us to ask the court not to disqualify their licence.  This is because the children’s court has different rules than adult court.  This area of law is constantly changing and you should contact us for the most up to date information.


I need the best drug driving lawyer in Brisbane

We have over 60 years combined experience with drug driving charges.  Since 2010 we have helped people in Brisbane and the whole Southeast Queensland who are charged with drug driving charges.  We have conducts over 1,000 drug driving pleas in that time.

Other firms do traffic law as a side project, or only do a few drug driving cases a year, at Clarity Law this is all we do and as a result we are the experts.


Will it be a hassle to engage you to represent me?

No, we have a form you can complete online to engage us.  It most cases you want even need to come into our office to see us before the court date as we can utilise emails, phone calls or zoom calls to sort everything out and save you hours of wasted time coming to our Brisbane office. 

The fixed fee also sits in a Queensland Law Society approved trust account until the matter is completed and you give us permission to take the money to pay our fee.  We don’t and can’t just take your money and not properly help you.


I’ve heard a lot of criminal lawyers are pretty shady so I’m worried ill get ripped off

Unfortunately there have been some lawyers that have really let everyone down with their behaviour.  Thankfully most traffic lawyers across Queensland are trust worthy. 

We will always be upfront with our clients about our costs, what will happen in court and what is the best way to handle the charge.  The money our clients pay sit in a Queensland Law Society regulated trust account until they authorise us to take the money after the matter has ended to their satisfaction.

Steven Brough the firms founder is the most respected traffic lawyer in Queensland and he ensures all our staff behave like they were representing a family member, always professional, caring and respectful but importantly utterly determined in court to get the best outcome.

Have a look at our reviews or call us to discuss, you will see how professionally and respectfully we treat our clients.



Top Myths of drug driving

Myth #1 – You Cannot be Charged with Drug Driving in Your Driveway

There are lots of reasons why this myth is wrong, most importantly, the legislation does not restrict where a drug driving offence can occur. In other words, you can commit these offences anywhere. You only need to have a relevant drug in your system or under the influence of a drug and be:

  • Driving a motor vehicle; or
  • Attempting to put it in motion; or
  • In charge of it.

We have encountered cases where people have been charged with drug driving offences where their car was:

  • Parked in a driveway;
  • Parked in a garage with the door shut;
  • Parked in a shopping centre or pub carpark;
  • Parked on the side of the road; and
  • Being driven on a dirt track on private property.

It is important to keep in mind that drug driving laws in Australia are not uniform across the various States and territories. It is crucial that you are getting information relating only to Queensland law, if you are planning to drive in Queensland.


Myth #2 – You can “Sleep it Off” in Your Car

As we have already discussed above, drug driving offences are not limited to public roads. You can commit them anywhere that you can get a car. Furthermore, as we discussed, you do not need to be actually driving a car to commit a drug driving offence.

If the police find you sleeping in your car while a relevant drug in your system or you are under the influence of a drug, you will probably be charged with being “in charge” of the car while drug driving. Being “in charge” of a motor vehicle has no precise definition in the legislation; however, there is case law which does provide such a definition.

In simple terms, being “in charge” has the underlying idea of being “responsible”. In Queensland, it seems that the courts consider someone must be responsible for cars parked on public roads. Therefore, you are in charge of your car until you give responsibility of your car to someone else. This notion is applied fairly broadly; for example, you can still be “in charge” of your car, even if it has been in an accident. Nevertheless, the legislation does provide for certain, very limited, circumstances where you will not be convicted of an offence even though you were found to be “in charge” of your car and were over the legal limit.


Myth #3 – You are Safe to Drive the Next Day

Speaking of driving the next morning, a common trap many of our clients fall into is driving the morning following a night where drugs were consumed, believing that they no longer have any drugs in their system. Regrettably, and depending on what and how much drugs you took the night before, this may not be the case.

Drugs, especially cannabis can stay in the system for a long period of time.  The tests the police use are quite sensitive and any amount of a relevant drug detected, even a tiny amount, will result in a charge.

It should be said that being mistaken about whether you have a relevant drug in your system is not a defence to a drug driving charge.


Myth #4 – I cannot be charged with drug driving as the drug was legally prescribed to me

Whilst you cannot be charged with driving with a relevant drug in your system on a legally prescribed drug (except cannabis discussed below) if the prescribed drug has affected your ability to drive the police can charge you with being under the influence of a drug.

Currently whilst cannabis can be legally prescribed in Queensland the laws do not allow you to drive with any cannabis in your system.  If any THC is found in a blood or saliva test you will be charged with driving with a relevant drug in your system.

The Government is currently reviewing whether to amend the laws to allow people with a cannabis prescription to drive in Queensland.



Where is Brisbane Court?

Brisbane Court

363 George Street

Brisbane Qld 4001



Business hours

8.30am to 4.30pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

8:30am to 4:00pm on Wednesday

Phone                   (07) 3738 7050

Email                     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Brisbane Court has the following Magistrates

Magistrate Linda Bradford-Morgan
Magistrate Judith Daley
Magistrate Penelope Hay
Magistrate Michelle Howard
Magistrate Belinda Merrin
Magistrate Andrew Moloney
Magistrate Kyna Morice
Magistrate Mark Nolan
Magistrate Julian Noud
Magistrate Jacqueline Payne
Magistrate Tina Previtera
Magistrate Michael Quinn
Magistrate Peter Saggers
Magistrate Colin Strofield
Magistrate Anne Thacker


Suburbs covered by the Brisbane Court

  • Ascot
  • Ashgrove
  • Alderley
  • Aspley
  • Auchenflower
  • Bardon
  • Bowen Hills
  • Brisbane
  • Carindale
  • Chelmer
  • Chermside
  • Clayfield
  • Coorparoo
  • East Brisbane
  • Fortitude Valley
  • Indooroopilly
  • Kangaroo Point
  • Kelvin Grove
  • Keperra
  • Milton
  • Newstead
  • Paddington
  • South Brisbane
  • Springwood
  • Toowong
  • Wilston
  • Woolloongabba


Our closest office locations


Bluedog Business Centre

Level 1/16 McDougall St, Milton QLD 4064

Phone(07) 3067 7017



North Brisbane

North Brisbane Serviced Offices

3/22-24 Strathwyn Street, Brendale 4500

Phone: 0734850184 


Please always phone ahead to book an appointment as our lawyers are often in court.


Our Team

Every one of our lawyers is extremely experienced appearing in the courts multiple times every week representing people charged with traffic offences.


Steven Brough – Founder and traffic lawyer – 22+ years experience


Russell Tannock – Traffic lawyer – 8 years+ experience


Lucy Ferguson – Traffic lawyer– 5 years+ experience


Jacob Purden – Traffic lawyer– 8 years+ experience


Belinda Smyth – Client Services Manager – 21+ years experience


Our experience

Since 2010 we have been representing people throughout the Brisbane region who have been charged with traffic offences such as drug driving and need a good drug driving lawyer to represent them.  We aren’t a firm that does traffic law as just one area of law amongst many, we do traffic law exclusively. 

Our client’s often come to us nervous, worried and needing answers.  This is not a time for uncertainty over your future nor the costs you will pay.  The stress that a drug driving charge causes to people can be overwhelming, having a experienced drug driving law firm to help will give you a lot of relief.

We strive to give you immediate comprehensive advice and a fixed fee so you can be sure of your legal costs and whether you qualify for a work licence.  While we will never be the cheapest we do offer the best value in our humble opinion.

Our prices include;

  • full preparation for court and devising strategy to minimise penalty
  • negotiations with the police prosecution unit including obtaining traffic history and charge documents
  • preparing for what we will tell the magistrate
  • advising you on how to obtain character references
  • all telephone calls and emails
  • detailed information to you on the likely disqualification period and fine and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
  • appearing in the court with you to conduct a guilty plea


Why should I choose you and not just represent myself?

We understand that many people do just represent themselves in court for a drug driving charge.  Unfortunately some believe the duty lawyer will assist them which they will not for a drug driving charge unless you are facing a prison sentence.

We get calls every week from people who have represented themselves in the Brisbane Magistrates court and had a terrible outcome and are now desperate to try and do something to overturn the decision.  Just some of the reasons to engage a traffic lawyer includes;

  1. We have appeared in Brisbane court hundreds of times this means we know what the Magistrates want to hear to minimise the disqualification period
  2. We can advise you if you qualify for a work licence
  3. We are there to look after your interests, neither the magistrates nor the police prosecutor is going to do that, you need someone on your side
  4. We can take you through the whole process so you are not worried what will occur in court as we would have explained everything to you and will be with you at court to assist you. This will dramatically reduce your stress levels
  5. Engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously.  People often think having a lawyer makes them look more “guilty” that’s not the case the Magistrates want people to have lawyers as the lawyers know exactly what to say to the court.


 A lawyer is not going to make any real difference

We have done 1000’s of drink and drug driving charge throughout Queensland.  Having a lawyer always makes a difference.  It doesn’t have to be us but always have a lawyer handle your matter in court.  Even a month or two less disqualification is worth the price let alone the reduction in stress you will have with a lawyer by your side handling everything.  Just the cost of ubers and taxis to get around for the few extra months a lawyer can save makes it worth it, let alone the saving in stress and worry.

Remember in court only a lawyer is on your side, the magistrate and the police prosecutor are not.


I’m really embarrassed at what has occurred

That’s understandable most of our clients haven’t intentionally driven whilst over the limit.  We have no judgement, good people make mistakes and we are here to try and get the best outcome for the client so they can go on with their lives.


I’m just going to plead guilty and hope the Magistrate gives me the minimum sentence

You are absolutely within your rights to not hire a lawyer and just represent yourself in court.  However consider the benefits of hiring Clarity Law:

  • Our costs are fixed and are quite reasonable
  • We know the exact things to tell the Magistrate to get the best outcome. A lawyer knows how to present your strongest case
  • We are there to be by your side and protect your interests even if you are pleading guilty
  • The law is complicated and you might not understand that simple things you do or forget to do in court will increase your penalty or deny you from getting a work licence
  • Lawyers know how to negotiate with the prosecutor to get the best facts told to the court
  • Both the Magistrate and the Prosecutor are experts in traffic law, if you don’t have a lawyer you will be the only one without years of court experience
  • You will experience a lot of stress appearing in court, having us with you, taking care of everything will radically reduce that stress


Links that may be of assistance

Link to our Blog

List of Queensland Courts and their contact details

Daily list of Matters in Brisbane Courts

List of Court Calendars for Queensland Courts



If I contacted you what would occur?

If you contact Clarity Law then Steven Brough the firm’s founder or our client services manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have over 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your drug driving charge, all at no cost and no obligation.

If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about drug driving and what might happen in court.

Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. Every one of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them and they know the Brisbane court and the magistrates and prosecutors.


What do you charge?

We charge a flat upfront fee for our services, that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills. 

We are also upfront with our fees, if you look at other law firms few, if any, clearly list how much they are going to charge you.  Clarity Law on the other hand are happy to list our prices as we believe that even though we are the most experiences traffic law firm in Queensland and will never be the cheapest firm we do offer prices less that most other less experienced firms.  

Our prices include;

  • full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
  • contacting the prosecution unit to obtain your traffic history, charge documents and a copy of the prosecutor court brief (QP9) so we know what the prosecutor will tell the court occurred
  • drafting submissions for the court
  • arranging for you to attend a driving course (if appropriate)
  • all telephone calls, emails and meetings with you
  • detailed information to you on the likely penalty and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
  • appearing in the court with you for your guilty plea to the drug driving charge


Click here to go to see what we would charge to represent you.


Need more information?

We have a range of articles on drug driving on our blog.  Some of the most recent have included:


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

  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

  3. Click here to book a teleconference at a time that suits you

  4. Email our firms founder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  5. Send us a message on Facebook Messenger

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you, talk through your charge, map out the best way to achieve the lowest penalty and provide a fixed price quote.  If you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information about drug driving. You won’t be chased or hounded to engage us.  Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, a drug driving charge will have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business. Clarity Law is here to help good people through bad times, reduce your stress and get the best outcome by engaging us.


What our clients say about us