In the lead up to 2006, the NSW State Government became more and more concerned that whilst there was sufficient laws in place to detect drink driving, there were none to randomly detect those who had consumed illicit drugs and drove a motor vehicle with such illicit drugs in their system.
The NSW Government, following the lead of South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, decided to introduce Random Drug Testing in an effort to combat drug driving.
This legislation commenced on December 15, 2006, giving police power to stop and test drivers for the presence of illicit drugs in their oral fluid (saliva), blood or urine.
This legislation also introduced Police powers to detain drivers involved in fatal or suspected fatal accidents, requiring such to provide samples of blood to be tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs.
Since the introduction of drug driving legislation, there has been 1386 convictions for drug driving between 2007 and 2010. Statistics have revealed that about a quarter of those charged have received no conviction.
What do I do if I have been charged with Drug Driving?
A charge involving Drug Driving means that you have to go to court and answer the charge. It is a major traffic offence and will involve a disqualification of your licence if you are convicted.
Once a sample is obtained by police and forwarded to the laboratories, if the resultant test comes back positive to an “illicit drug” then you need to seriously consider your plea. A scientific analysis is incontrovertible evidence that there was at the time of driving, the presence of an illicit drug in your oral fluid, urine or blood.
The question of course is “how did that drug enter your system”? If you consumed something the night or hours before being stopped and tested, then clearly you have no alternative but to plead “guilty”.
Drug Driving, like drink driving is a “major traffic offence” within the framework of Road Transport legislation and carries a mandatory disqualification of your licence upon conviction. The only way to avoid a disqualification is for the Court to not convict you and grant you a Section 10 dismissal or discharge on a good behavior bond.
A number of factors will need to be considered before the Court may take that option and your better chances are to see a Solicitor for help and guidance.
What if I did not voluntarily consume an illicit drug?
There may be an exceptional case whereby you are not a drug user, have never used an illicit drug and cannot explain how the drug got into your system.
This argument creates a possible defence to the charge.
If you did not voluntarily consume a drug and your drink was spiked with “something”, then this provides a defence to such a charge.
We have acted for client’s in these circumstances and the court has held that the defence of “honest and reasonable mistaken belief” can be afforded to a charge such as this.
The defence of course must be “honest” and also “reasonable”.
Should you find yourself in such intractable position, then you should consult a lawyer.