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What Is The Penalty For Driving Under the Influence Of Drugs?

Driving under the influence of drugs poses a significant risk to the safety of the driver and others on the road. In Australia, strict laws are in place to deter individuals from operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs vary depending on several factors, including the type of drug detected, the level of impairment, and whether it is a first or subsequent offence. This article aims to provide an overview of the penalties associated with driving under the influence of drugs in Australia.

Drug Testing and Detection

Australian law enforcement agencies employ various methods to detect drug use among drivers to combat drug-impaired driving. One of the primary methods is roadside drug testing, where drivers must undergo saliva or oral fluid testing. This test can detect the presence of THC (Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the psychoactive component of cannabis, as well as methamphetamine, and MDMA.

In the event that a driver tests positive for drugs or refuses to undergo testing, further assessment, such as a blood test, may be conducted to determine the exact drug concentration in their system.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs in Australia are severe and vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the offence. The penalties generally encompass fines, licence suspensions, mandatory participation in drug education programs, and, in serious cases, imprisonment. Let's examine these penalties in more detail:


  • The fines for drug-impaired driving vary across states and territories. In some jurisdictions, fines can range from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars.
  • Repeat offenders or those with higher drug concentration levels may face higher fines.
  • The fines imposed by the court consider factors such as the driver's level of impairment, the type of drug detected, and any previous convictions.

Licence Suspensions:

  • Licence suspension periods for drug-impaired driving also differ by state.
  • In most cases, a first-time offence can result in a licence suspension of several months to a year. In Victoria, as of April 2018, a licence or learner permit will be suspended for six months following a first-time offence.
  • Subsequent offences may lead to longer suspensions or even permanent revocation of the driver's licence. This is usually at least twelve months in Victoria.
  • If the offender is required to go to court, their licence can be cancelled rather than suspended.They may also be mandated an interlock device upon licence reinstatement. This device requires the driver to provide a breath sample free of alcohol or drugs before starting the vehicle.

Mandatory Drug Education Programs:

  • In addition to fines and licence suspensions, individuals convicted of drug-impaired driving may be required to participate in drug education or rehabilitation programs.
  • These programs aim to raise awareness about the dangers of drug use while driving and support individuals to overcome drug dependency issues.
  • Completion of these programs is often a condition for licence reinstatement.


  • In serious cases of drug-impaired driving, such as repeat offences or accidents causing significant harm or death, imprisonment may be imposed.
  • The duration of imprisonment varies based on the specific circumstances of the offence, ranging from a few months to several years.

Legal Limits and Testing Thresholds

Each state or territory has established legal limits and testing thresholds for drugs detected in a driver's system. These limits are based on the impairing effects of various drugs and are designed to ensure the safety of all road users.

It is essential to note that for some drugs, such as THC, there is a zero-tolerance policy, meaning any presence of the drug is considered an offence.

When to Hire a Lawyer for a Driving Offence

Hiring a lawyer is crucial in navigating the complex legal procedures involved in driving offences, serious driving offences like DUI, challenging flawed evidence, licence suspension cases, protecting professional reputation, prior offences or complex circumstances, and plea bargaining.

They provide guidance, develop strong defence strategies, challenge evidence, advocate for reduced penalties or dismissal, protect professional interests, navigate complex cases, and negotiate with prosecutors. Hiring a lawyer for your driving offence can make a significant difference in achieving the best outcome while protecting your rights.

If you're facing a driving offence charge and need expert legal representation, contact Stary Norton Halphen today. Our experienced team of driving offence lawyers will provide strong defence strategies, guide you through the legal process, and work tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Don't face the consequences alone – contact Stary Norton Halphen for professional assistance. Visit our website or call us now to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled driving offence lawyers.

What Is The Penalty For Driving Under the Influence Of Drugs?

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Doyle's Guide First Tier Criminal Law firm (2020, 2021 and 2022).