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Roadside Drug Driving QLD

In Queensland, any person who drives a vehicle while under the influence of drugs (UID), or with a relevant drug in their system is committing an offence. Not only is it dangerous for the driver but also to everyone on the road – drivers and pedestrians alike. Anyone caught driving while having drugs in their system will be charged with either “driving with a relevant drug present” or “driving under the influence of a drug.”

How Do Authorities Know Someone Is Drug Driving?

The primary reason why people get caught drug driving is from random roadside drug testing. Drug testing is often undertaken as a part of random breath testing (RBT) to find people who are under the influence of alcohol. So, if you are tested for drugs, there is a huge chance that you will also be tested for alcohol.

These operations are performed randomly; although there are testing sites, it can still occur anywhere and anytime. Other than RBTs, a police officer may also ask you to stop your vehicle if they suspect you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Roadside Drug Testing Process

Firstly, the testing will appear just like any other sobriety checkpoint. Police officers will ask incoming vehicles to pull over and cooperate. Afterwards, the police officer will perform a mouth swab on the driver to take a saliva sample. If the driver cannot provide a saliva sample, he/she will be required to give a blood sample instead. It will then take about 3 to 5 minutes to get a result and the driver is required to wait for the results.

There are only two results in any drug test:

  • Positive – which means there is a drug presence in the body.
  • Negative – which means no drug presence is detected (you may continue to drive freely).

If your test result is positive, the authorities will need to conduct a second saliva test. Only this time, it will be executed in their police van or at the nearest police station. If you fail the second test, the results will be sent to a laboratory for further analysis.

There are three relevant drugs that authorities are mainly looking for:

  • Methylamphetamine/Methamphetamine
  • MDMA – better known as ecstasy
  • THC – the psychoactive component in cannabis

The Penalties for Drug Driving

If you are charged with an offence of Drug Driving, your driver licence will be suspended for either 24 hours, or until your matter is finalised in court (depending on the charge). You must not drive while your licence is suspended as if you are caught by the police and are convicted of the charge, your driver licence will be disqualified for a minimum of 2 years. There is no s.87 Restricted Work Licence available in these circumstances.

Driving Under the Influence of a Drug

If an officer is convinced or reasonably believes your driving is impaired by a drug, he/she will ask you to provide a sample (saliva or blood). If you fail the test or fail to provide a specimen, the authorities will charge you and in most cases give you a notice to appear in court. The officer will then instantly suspend your driver licence.

If convicted of an offence of Driving a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of a Drug, you will be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 6 months, and you will not be eligible for a Restricted Work Licence. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 28 penalty units and nine months imprisonment.

Please note that if you have been convicted of the same offence within the last five years, your disqualification sentence will increase, as will the maximum penalty.

Driving With a Relevant Drug Present

This offence is almost identical to the first one with lesser penalties. Even if an officer does not suspect any driving impairment, as long as the driver’s drug test result is positive, the charge applies.

If you are charged and found guilty of this offence, the Court will disqualify you from driving for one to nine months. The maximum penalty is 14 penalty units and three months imprisonment. You may be eligible for a Restricted Work Licence.

Prescription Drugs

Most people will just assume that only unlawful or relevant drugs can cause driving problems. However, other prescription drugs may still have impairing effects, too. That is why it is in your best interest to consult your doctor or pharmacist to clarify the side effects of the drugs you are currently taking before driving a car or motorcycle. Any drug – legal or illegal – that can alter your vision, hearing, motor skills, and, most importantly, judgement is grounds for a police officer to stop your vehicle and asks you to perform a saliva test.

Points to Clarify With Your Doctor:

  • What are the adverse effects of your medicine?
  • How long do these side effects last?
  • How will this medication react when combined with alcohol?
  • What happens if you miss a dose?
  • Are there any withdrawal symptoms when stopping this drug?
  • What are other medications that you should avoid while taking your medication?

Common Drug Effects That Lead to Accidents When Driving:

  • Vertigo
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Tremors (uncontrollable shakes)
  • Myasthenia (muscle weakness)
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in judging speed and distance
  • Hallucination
  • Mood swings
  • Exhaustion
  • Drowsiness

Overall, when taking any medication that can potentially alter your general perception – especially if it impairs your driving skills – it would be best to refrain from driving for the duration of time you are taking the medication. If you have taken illegal drugs, do not drive until you are confident that its effects have worn off.

Typically, drugs will last in your system for about 24 to 48 hours – some may take four days to pass out of your system. So, even if you do feel good enough to drive, there is still a chance that you will have a positive result when taking a drug test.

Should You Seek a Lawyer?

Most certainly. Drug driving is a serious offence which carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment. Moreover, without any legal advice, most offenders are often charged with the more severe offence (driving under the Influence of a drug) without any proper evidence. It may be possible to reduce the charge to driving while a drug is present in most cases.

However, if none of that is possible and you wish to plead guilty, it is still crucial to have the presence of a lawyer to significantly lessen the penalties you are charged with. If you are in this unfortunate situation, Hollows Boonen Lawyers are confident and more than capable of providing you with a promising outcome rather than you taking your chances and representing yourself. Our expertise can guide you to minimising the penalty imposed.

If you are eligible, we can also assist you in applying for a Restricted Work Licence. This licence will allow you to drive for work purposes for the duration of your licence disqualification. This application will need to be prepared prior to Court.

We understand how important a driver licence is, and we know how imperative it is to avoid imprisonment.

To give you a clearer state of mind, know your rights, and to help you understand all your available options, contact Hollows Boonen Lawyers right away.

We are on call 24 hours 7days.  If you need a Lawyer, call us any time on 1800 465 569 or 0411 881 030

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