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Driving while impaired

Information about the offence of driving while impaired by an illicit drug.

This offence was created to provide a more effective way of dealing with increasing incidences of drug driving and its potential impact on road safety.

A driver is ‘impaired’ if their behaviour or appearance is such as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that they are unable to drive properly.

This offence was created to address the increasing problem of drug driving in Victoria.

The offence is easier to prove than the more serious driving under the influence offence, as the prosecution need only prove that person drove a vehicle while they were impaired by a drug. There is no need to prove that driver was incapable of having proper control of vehicle.

This offence can extend to a person who has taken prescription drugs if they have impaired the driver's driving.

See s. 49(1)(ba)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Drug driving defences.

Drug assessment may be required

If police suspect that a driver is drug impaired they may request the driver to undergo an assessment to detect presence of drugs.

If the assessment indicates that the driver may be impaired, they will be required to provide a sample of blood and/or or urine. If the blood or urine testing is carried out within 3 hours of driving or being in charge of motor vehicle there is a presumption that not less than this concentration of drug was present at the time of driving.

Penalties for impaired driving

Fine or jail term

If someone is found guilty of the offence of driving while impaired by a drug they will have their licence or permit cancelled and will be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months. They will also be fined.

The maximum penalties are:

  • first offence—12 penalty units
  • second offence—120 penalty units or maximum term of imprisonment 12 months
  • third offence or more—180 penalty units or maximum term of imprisonment 18 months.

See s. 49(3)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Licence cancellation and disqualification from driving

The court must disqualify a driver from driving for at least 12 months for a first offence or a minimum of 2 years for a subsequent offence if they convict or find guilty of this offence.

See s. 50(1C)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Immediate suspension

A driver licence may be suspended by police if the person is charged with the offence of driving while impaired by a drug.

See s. 85A—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Behaviour change program

A driver who is found guilty of driving while drug impaired must complete a behaviour change program before they can be issued with another licence.

See Behaviour change program.

More information

Legislation

Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

  • s. 3 (1)—definition of drug, substance and drug-driving infringement
  • s. 48(1)(ab)—presumption that if driver tested within 3 hours of driving that the concentration of drug at time of test was present at time of driving
  • s. 49(1)(ba)—drive or in charge of motor vehicle while impaired by a drug
  • s. 49(3)—fine and imprisonment penalties for driving while impaired by a drug
  • s. 49(3A)(d)—to establish that driver impaired it is necessary to prove driver was unable to drive properly
  • s. 50(1C)—minimum licence disqualification periods for drive while drug impaired
  • s. 85A—immediate suspension
  • s. 55A(2)—person not obliged to undergo assessment if more than 3 hours has elapsed since they drove/were in charge of motor vehicle
  • s. 57—blood test evidentiary provisions
  • s. 57A—urine test evidentiary provisions

See Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

Victorian Government Gazette

The Victoria Government Gazette specifies the complete procedure to be followed in assessing drug impairment.

See Victoria Government Gazette G 46 16 November 2000—Procedure to be followed in assessing drug impairment (PDF)(opens in a new window).

Motor & Traffic Law Victoria

Lexus Advance's comprehensive guide to the law of driving in Victoria, has commentary information on the offence of driving while impaired.

  • Offence of driving while impaired [5610.263B]

See Motor & traffic law—Victoria(opens in a new window).

Updated