Traffic law in Victoria makes it illegal to take illicit drugs and many prescription drugs before operating a vehicle.
You may have come across drug testing van while on the road. The police will let you know that they are performing a random drug test, and detain you for up to five minutes while they await the results of the test.
Victorian traffic law
There are three different types of drug driving offences under traffic law in Victoria (section 49 of the Road Safety Act 1986).
- Driving or being in charge or a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle.
- Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle while impaired by any type of drug.
- Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle when your saliva or blood contains any trace of illicit drugs.
Driving under the influence (DUI)
This is an old offence known as DUI. The mandatory minimum is two years disqualification for a first offence DUI. However, it is rarely used any more in favour of the other two drugs offence options.
Driving while impaired by a drug
If the police pull you over and suspect that you are influenced by drugs, they will do a preliminary drug test. If the preliminary test doesn’t yield results, they can ask you to perform other tests including coordination tests, which they may record.
If the police officer believes that you are impaired by drugs, they can ask a doctor to take a urine or blood sample to be sent for testing. It is an offence to not comply with a required drug test.
The term ‘drug’ is broadly defined. If you are on prescribed medications and following doctor’s instructions, you may have an adequate defence.
The penalty for driving while impaired by a drug is a minimum 12 month loss of your drivers licence.
Driving with illicit drugs
‘Illicit drugs’ are defined as cannabis and amphetamine. A saliva test can be taken up to three hours after using. This is what police are generally testing for when they do a saliva swab with a drug driving van. It is a dangerous offence to drive when you have taken illicit drugs.
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