Drink and drug driving penalties

Drink and drug driving penalties strengthened

From 1 February 2010, any person who commits a drink or drug driving offence will face tougher penalties, including:

  • A three month licence disqualification for a first court conviction when:
    • driving with a prescribed drug (including cannabis, speed or ecstasy) present in saliva or blood, or
    • driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 to 0.079.
  • Heavier penalties for repeat offenders, with courts considering previous drink and drug driving offences during sentencing.
  • Heavier penalties apply for alcohol readings above 0.08.
  • An alcohol or drug dependency assessment may be required (depending on the number of previous drink or drug driving offences committed).

For example, if a person has, within the previous five years, expiated or been convicted of one of the following offences they will require an alcohol or drug dependency assessment.

  • Three or more Category 1 offences.
  • Two Category 1 offences and one Category 2 offence.
  • Two or more serious drink driving offences.
  • Two or more drug driving offences.

A blood sample must be taken from any person 10 years or older, who attends or is admitted to hospital for treatment as a result of a boat or motor vehicle accident (previously the minimum age was 14 years). In addition, South Australia Police will now be able to test boat operators for prescribed drugs (including cannabis, speed and ecstasy) under the same conditions as drug testing for vehicle drivers. 

Definitions
Category 1 drink driving offence - an offence between 0.05 and less than 0.08 BAC
Category 2 drink driving offence - an offence between 0.08 and less than 0.15 BAC 
A serious drink driving offence includes:
Driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor
Refusing to provide a sample of breath or blood for alcohol testing
Driving with a BAC at or above 0.15
Driving with a BAC at or above 0.08 where a previous alcohol offence exists within the last 5 years.  

These penalties are designed to send a clear message to drivers about the severity of taking drugs and operating a motor vehicle and reflect the danger these drivers present to themselves and to the safety of other road users.

Driving with prescribed drug in oral fluid or blood

(section 47BA of the Road Traffic Act 1961)
First
offence
‘On the spot’ fine; and
4 demerit points
OR
Court penalty – a fine of not less than $900 and not more than $1,300; and
4 demerit points; and
Licence disqualification - not less than 3 months
Second offence Court penalty – a fine of not less than $1,100 and not more than $1,600; and
4 demerit points; and
Licence disqualification - not less than six months
Third
offence
Court penalty – a fine of not less than $1,500 and not more than $2,200; and
4 demerit points; and
Licence disqualification - not less than 12 months
Subsequent offences Court penalty – a fine of not less than $1,500 and not more than $2,200; and
4 demerit points; and
Licence disqualification - not less than 2 years
Refusal or failure to undertake a drug screening test, oral fluid analysis or blood test

(section 47EAA of the Road Traffic Act 1961) 
First
offence
Court penalty – a fine of not less than $900 and not more than $1,300; and
6 demerit points; and
Licence disqualification – not less than 6 months
Subsequent offences Court penalty – a fine of not less than $1,500 and not more than $2,200; and
6 demerit points; and
Licence disqualification - not less than 2 years

Penalties also apply to drivers who refuse or fail to undertake a drug screening test, oral fluid analysis or blood test when required to do so by a police officer.

Drivers impaired by other drugs (either prescription or illicit) will continue to be prosecuted under section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 for the existing offence of driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug. This offence carries severe penalties and drivers may be fined up to $1,600 for a first offence, in addition to a period of licence disqualification, demerit points or even imprisonment in some cases.

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