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Driving Impairment

Studies show that illicit drugs impair the skills needed to operate a motor vehicle safely because they affect coordination, reaction time, muscles, vision and the ability to judge distance and speed. In the case of marijuana, thinking and reflexes are slowed, making it hard for a driver to respond to sudden, unexpected events. The lack of ability to brake quickly, stay in a lane, maintain correct speed and proper distance between cars, greatly increases the risk of a serious accident.

Methamphetamines can cause lapses of attention, disorientation, a lack of coordination and overconfidence in driving skills. The latter leading to increased risk taking and aggressive driving, which is extremely dangerous. As the effects wear off, drowsiness and fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability and depression may continue to impair driving ability.

Roadside Testing

Police can randomly stop you anytime, anywhere in South Australia and test you for illicit drugs. Roadside drug tests can detect the active ingredient in Cannabis, Ecstasy, Speed, Ice or Crystal Meth. Unlike with alcohol testing, the volume of the drug in the system cannot be detected but since there is a zero tolerance to illegal drugs, presence results in prosecution.

The drug testing device is able to detect THC (Cannabis) for at least 5 hours after use. This may be even longer depending on the amount and potency of the cannabis taken and the individual’s metabolic rate.

Methylamphetamine (Speed, Ice or Crystal Meth) and MDMA (Ecstasy) can be detected for at least 24 hours after use. Again, the exact time will vary depending on the size of the dose, other drugs taken at the same time, as well the individual’s metabolism.

When undergoing a drug driving test, you will be required to wipe the testing device over your tongue to obtain a sample of your saliva. The test takes about 5 minutes and if the result is positive you will be required to provide a further oral fluid sample for analysis in a drug bus or at a police station. If your test is negative, you'll be free to go.

Drug Driving Penalties

If you test positive for drugs whilst driving or attempting to drive a vehicle, you will be penalised.

DRIVING WITH ILLICIT DRUG IN ORAL FLUID OR BLOOD (section 47BA of the Road Traffic Act 1961);
First offence 'On the spot’ fine; and 4 demerit points plus licence disqualification for three months *applies from 24 April 2018 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 six 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 12 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 2 years
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 3 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.

REFUSAL OR FAILURE TO UNDERTAKE A DRUG SCREENING TEST, ORAL FLUID ANALYSIS OR BLOOD TEST
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 12 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 3 years

For more information go to the Road Traffic Act 1961, section

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