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Drug Driving

There is a “zero tolerance” approach to drug driving in Queensland.  If you are found to have any traces of drugs present, you will be facing a drug driving charge.  Drug driving charges can result in significant fines and licence disqualification periods so it is imperative you seek expert legal advice, and representation for court proceedings. 

The law

Drug driving is dealt with under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld).

The possible charges

The possible charges include:

  • driving while relevant drug is present in blood or saliva,
  • driving under the influence of drugs, and
  • failing to provide a sample of saliva.

Failing to provide a sample of your saliva to police is also an offence.

What drugs does the test pick up?

Drug testing can be completed at a roadside breath test (“RBT”) site, designated drug testing site or if police have pulled you over and believe you are under the influence of prohibited drugs.

The tests can pick up traces of:

  • amphetamines (speed, ice),
  • MDMA (ectasy),
  • THC (cannabis),
  • heroin,
  • prescription medication, if this renders the driver unfit to drive due to consumption of same, and
  • any other illegal substance.

Only the active ingredients of drugs are tested for.  The timeframe between detecting a drug and not detecting a drug differs with each drug and is dependent on a range of factors, such as frequency of drug use or quantity of the drug consumed.

Can I still drive?

If you have tested positive to a drug while driving, your licence will be suspended immediately for 24 hours.

If charged with driving with a relevant drug present in saliva, your driver licence will remain valid until the charge is dealt with by a court (if you have no other pending traffic charges).  If you have pending traffic charges, your driver licence will be suspended immediately until your court date.

If you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs, your licence will be immediately suspended until your court date.  You may be able to apply for a court order that allows you to drive up until your court date.

Possible penalties

Possible penalties for driving while relevant drug is present in blood or saliva include:

  • significant fines,
  • community based orders (such as probation or community service)
  • licence disqualification of one to nine months, and
  • imprisonment of up to three months.

The mandatory minimum period of licence disqualification for this charge for an open licence holder is one month, provided you do not have any previous drink or drug driving convictions in the past five years.  If you are a provisional or probationary licence holder, the minimum period increases to three months.

The more serious charge of driving under the influence of drugs attracts much more significant penalties and lengthier periods of licence disqualification and/or imprisonment.  For first-time offenders, the maximum imprisonment term of imprisonment is nine months.

Mandatory minimum period of licence disqualification for this charge is six months, provided you do not have any previous drink or drug driving convictions in the past five years.

If you have previously been charged with a drug driving offence in the past five years, you are considered a repeat offender and higher penalties apply.

Those charged with failing to provide a sample of saliva may also face the same penalties as someone who was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, which is the more serious charge.  Potential penalties include significant fines and a maximum term of imprisonment of up to six months.

Is there a way to keep my licence?

See our dedicated work licences webpage.

Is there anything I can do to help my case?

Our lawyers can refer you to driving and other behavioural programs that can assist your case and in some cases, reduce the penalty the court might impose.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

It will be beneficial if you bring the following documents with you:

  • a copy of the Police QP9 Report,
  • a copy of your traffic history, which will be contained with your QP9 report or you can obtain this from the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and
  • your current criminal record, from your local police station.

If you do not have the above, we can assist you in obtaining.

Will I get a criminal record from the charge?

If you are concerned about having a conviction recorded for a drug driving charge, we recommend you contact us to obtain legal advice.

How we can help

Q&S’s traffic lawyers can expertly navigate the complexities of drug driving charges, explore all possible defences, ensure all required documentation is prepared in a timely manner, provide extensive support in the lead up to court appearances, respond to your questions in a timely manner, and provide reliable and professional representation in all court proceedings.

Why choose us?

You will be talking to a real expert, local to you.  You will not be treated like a file number, but as a real person, and a person going through a difficult and stressful experience.  Get expert advice, not just what you want to hear, in a language you can understand, not legal jargon.

Office locations

Q&S’s expert traffic lawyers are available at any of Q&S’s seven local offices.

Get in touch!

Book a traffic law consultation, submit an online enquiry below or speak to an expert traffic lawyer on 1800 999 529.

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