Drink Driving & Drug Driving

The effects of drugs and alcohol are vast and sometimes inevitable. After a night out, you may still have alcohol or drugs in your system. Bear in mind, though, that alcohol can result in the following effects:

  • Make you fall asleep whilst driving due to drowsiness
  • Affect your sense of balance, which can have an impact on motorcycle drivers
  • Impair your concentration, which will give you a hard time concentrating on the road
  • Slow your brain down, impairing quick responses, such as when turning your vehicle

Drug and alcohol-influenced drivers (drink drivers) are road hazards to pedestrians and other drivers. Doing away with this kind of driving can reduce the potential risks for fatal collisions and other injuries. With this, it is best that a roadside drug and alcohol screening be conducted anytime and anywhere by an unmarked police vehicle.

Many individuals lose their lives due to drunk or drug driving. Statistics show that people aged 70 or more have the highest rate of involvement in car crashes and that males have higher fatality rates compared to females.

Alcohol Limits

Since alcohol affects drivers in various ways, it is important for you to know your limits. Under the Queensland legislation, drivers who hold a full license are permitted to have an alcohol content limit of 0.05. For learner, provisional, international, probationary, and special license holders, a zero-alcohol content limit is required.

  • .05 alcohol content – accident risk is doubled
  • .08 – the risk of getting involved in an accident increases by 7
  • .15 – the risk of getting involved in an accident increases by 25

Note: 10 grams of alcohol is the standard drink recognised by law.

People are different. The amount of alcohol content that leads to intoxication may differ, depending on a person’s size, weight, gender, liver function, recent food consumption, fatigue, fitness, and other health conditions. For example, a petite person and a woman will have a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Roadside Alcohol Testing – Drink Driving

A police officer is vested with the responsibility of subjecting a person to a breath test, especially when he or she shows a manner of driving that may be influenced by alcohol; is involved in a road accident; or has committed a driving offence. The police officer can also require the driver to submit to an Alcotest.

Drug Driving

Alcohol or drink driving is distinct from drug driving. In drug driving, a small trace of illegal drugs in your system makes the act of driving illegal. Drugs like ecstasy (MDMA), methamphetamine, and cannabis are the most common drugs found on drivers. As with roadside alcohol testing, drug testing may be conducted anytime and anywhere. In this regard, a driver should never risk it.
Before getting into the technicalities, it is essential that you know the different kinds of stimulant drugs and hallucinogens. Stimulant drugs include ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines. These drugs make your central nervous system more active than usual. They can lead to over-confidence when it comes to your driving skills; increase your risk of taking other drugs, lead to dangerous and aggressive driving, and subject you to attention difficulties.

On the other hand, hallucinogens include PCP, mescaline, magic mushrooms, LSD, and ketamine. Stimulant drugs like cannabis and ecstasy also possess the effects of hallucinogens. They can distort your perception of what is real. Taking them will make you imagine things that may not be there and will lead to accidents, if not managed properly.

Drug Driving testing

Drug testing on drivers involves only the drugs that are found in the system. If apprehended and drugs are found in your vehicle, you may be charged with a different crime or offence, apart from your drink driving infraction.

There are three steps for you to be charged of a drug driving violation. The first two steps are conducted by the roadside police whilst the third step is conducted in a laboratory.

First Step: An oral test will be conducted after you are pulled over by the police.

Second Step: A Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis will be performed using a drug detecting instrument.

Third Step: If you cannot give a saliva swab, you will be required to submit to a blood test, which will be conducted in the ACTGAL laboratory.

Penalties for Drug or Drink Driving

Alcohol and drug drivers will be required to appear before the court. The first offence is charged with a $1500 fine whilst a fine of $3750 or more is imposed for repeat offenders. They may also be subject to imprisonment if the offence committed is grave.

Refusal to submit to a breath test

Under the Road Traffic Act, it is an offence to fail or refuse to comply with the breath test or alcotest without reasonable justification. You will be required by a roadside police officer to exhale into a drug or alcohol detecting instrument, refusal of which will subject you to a traffic violation.

In addition, refusal to submit to a breath test will make you liable to pay a fine of $1100 and $1600 if you are a mandatory license holder. Moreover, you will be subjected to a mandatory licence disqualification, depending on the gravity of your offense. However, the court may decrease the period of your disqualification if sufficient evidence shows that an offence of “Trifling” has been committed.

It is important for you to know that you can be convicted of the crime of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol even if the blood test is lower than the prescribed alcohol or drug content. In proving the charges against you, the prosecution must submit substantial evidence of the act of driving and the signs of intoxication. For instance, the slurred speech or slow conversation, bloodshot or watery eyes, unsteadiness, and the smell of alcohol must be supported by sufficient evidence to justify the claim.

For more information on drug and drink driving and how you can defend yourself when charged with such offences, please contact our team.

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