What are the drug-driving penalties in NSW?

Published 26 Oct 2018

No matter the circumstance, driving requires strong judgement, solid concentration and fast reaction times. All of these traits are eradicated when drugs are in a person's system.

Across Australia, drug driving is a serious concern. In the last five years, an estimated 41 per cent of all motorists killed on the roads who were tested had drugs in their system, according to the Transport Accident Commission.

But what are the laws surrounding drug driving in NSW?

How do NSW police test for drugs?

Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) was introduced in NSW in 2007, and to this day continues to operate alongside Random Breath Testing (RBT). Here, NSW police have the power to test drivers they believe to be under the influence of drink or drugs. In order to crack down on the high percentage of drug-driving, it's estimated police will conduct up to 200,000 roadside drug tests by the year 2020, according to Transport for NSW.

MDT picks up on the following four common illegal drugs if ingested recently:

  • Cannabis.
  • Ecstasy.
  • Cocaine.
  • Methamphetamine.

Getting caught with traces of the aforementioned in your system can result in a variety of serious penalties.

What are the penalties for drug driving?

Depending on the type of drug present and whether it's a person's first or second offence determines the level of penalty:

Cannabis, speed/ice, MDMA/ecstasy, or cocaine in oral fluid, blood or urine

Being caught with the presence of any of the aforementioned drugs in oral fluid, blood or urine can result in the following:

Penalty First offence Second offence
Maximum court- imposed fine $1,100 $2,200
Minimum disqualification Three months Six months
Maximum disqualification Six months Unlimited

Morphine or cocaine in blood or urine

Unless morphine can be proven for medical use, drivers found with the presence of morphine or cocaine in blood or urine face the following penalties:

Penalty First offence Second offence
Maximum court- imposed fine $1,100 $2,200
Minimum disqualification Three months Six months
Maximum disqualification Six months Unlimited

There are also a series of fines and penalties for those who refuse to provide samples or attempt to tamper results.

NSW Government's road safety reforms for 2018

The Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Bill 2018, which the NSW Government recently passed, includes tougher penalties for drivers under the influence of drugs. The Bill amends the Road Transport Act 2013 and has already received great support from a significant proportion of the NSW community.

If you've sustained injuries at the hand of a drug-driver, you may be eligible for compensation. Get in touch with the team at Malouf Solicitors today to see how we can help.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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