The two main Drug Driving (NSW) offences are driving under the influence of a prohibited drug and driving while there is present an illicit substance in oral fluid or blood. There are several less common yet related offences to the main offences. For all drug driving offences, a driver faces mandatory disqualification periods upon conviction for the offence.
Drive Under the Influence of a Prohibited Drug
This offence is the same offence that relates to driving under the influence of alcohol. As with the alcohol related offence, it is not necessary to obtain expert evidence to prove that the driver was driving under the influence of a prohibited drug. Notwithstanding that expert evidence is not required, it is more common for police to rely on expert evidence when charging someone with and prosecuting this offence. Without expert evidence, in most cases, proving the charge would be difficult. Of the drug driving offences, driving under the influence of a prohibited drug is the most serious.
Drive Whilst Present Illicit Drug in Oral Fluid or Blood
This offence is less serious than driving under the influence of a drug, as it is not necessary for police to prove that the person was affected in any way by the drug. All that is required is that a prohibited drug is detected in the person's oral fluid (usually by taking a sample at the roadside) or in their blood (often if a person is taken to hospital after an accident). The powers of police in these circumstances are similar to drink driving, where random "drug testing" is conducted on the roadside. Although less serious than driving under the influence of a drug, upon conviction, a driver still faces mandatory disqualification periods.
Due to the heavy penalties that result from a conviction for a Drug Driving (NSW) offence, it is important to seek expert legal advice if charged.
If you have been charged with drug driving and require legal assistance, we invite you to contact your nearest Prime Lawyers office.