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Penalties for drug driving

Information about different penalties that may apply if someone is found guilty of drug driving.

Drug driving penalties depend on the type of offence and whether the driver has been caught drink or drug driving before. From 30 April 2018 all drivers who are found guilty or who get an infringement notice for drug driving will have their licence suspended or cancelled for at least 6 months.

Jail terms may be ordered for driving under the influence or for people who have been found guilty before in the last 10 years.

See ss. 3, 48(2), 50—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Flowcharts of possible penalties for drug driving

Two flowcharts set out the possible penalties for people who are found guilty of drug driving offences. These depend on the date the offence happened. Make sure you choose the right one. The most recent changes apply to offences that happened after 29 April 2018.

A flowchart to help navigate potential outcomes for drug driving offences that happen after 29 April 2018.

Drug drive penalties flowchart – offences after 29 April 2018 (pdf, 479 KB)(opens in a new window)

A flowchart to help navigate potential outcomes for drug driving offences that happen between 1 January 2017 and before 30 April 2018.

Drug drive penalties flowchart – offences after 31 December 2016 and pre 30 April 2018 (pdf, 457 KB)(opens in a new window)

A flowchart to help navigate potential outcomes for drug driving offences between 1 August 2015 and before 1 January 2017.

Drug driving penalties flowchart – offences after 31 July 2015 and pre 1 January 2017 (pdf, 457 KB)(opens in a new window)

Immediate suspension

Police have the power to suspend a driver’s licence immediately if they charge someone with a drink or drug driving offence. This also applies to refusal offences.

If a licence is cancelled for the offence, the suspension period will be deducted from the licence cancellation period.

See What is immediate licence suspension?

On-the-spot fines

An infringement notice or ‘on the spot’ fine is likely to be issued for some drug driving offences if the person has not been found guilty of drug driving in the last 10 years and they:

  • have more than the prescribed amount of a drug present (s. 49(1)(bb))
  • provide a saliva test with an illicit drug detected within 3 hours of driving (s. 49(1)(h))
  • provide a blood test and illicit drug detected within 3 hours of driving (s. 49(1)(i)).

See s. 3(1)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Difference between licence suspension and cancellation.

Licence suspension will apply to drivers who get a drug driving infringement

Drivers who get a fine for a drug driving will also have their licences suspended for 6 months. This suspension period takes effect from when the 28 day period for challenging the fine has expired. Drivers must surrender their licence to VicRoads.

A fine may also be issued by the court.

See:

Court ordered penalties

Any fines or prison terms imposed by a court are in addition to any cancellation or disqualification period that the court imposes.

Fines are higher for refusing to have a drug impairment assessment or blood/urine test. These offences are treated more seriously than refusing a random roadside saliva test.

See Drug driving offences.

The maximum fine or imprisonment

The maximum penalties are different depending on which offence the driver has been found guilty of and whether they have been caught drink or drug driving before within the last 10 years.

The penalties have been listed under each separate offence.

See:

Licence cancellation or disqualification from driving

The court has no discretion and must cancel licence and disqualify a driver from driving if the driver is convicted or found guilty of a drug driving offence.

Length of licence cancellation

If a driver is found guilty or convicted or driving while an illicit (or too much of a prescribed) drug is present in their blood or urine, their licence must be cancelled for at least:

  • first offence—6 months
  • second or more offence—12 months.

There is no maximum period of licence cancellation.

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

Vehicle immobilisation, impoundment or forfeiture

Combination drink/drug and drug driving offences are included as relevant offences under the hoon driving laws. For drug driving offences this means that if a driver has been caught drink or drug driving before, then police have the power to immediately immobilise their vehicle for up to 30 days. If they have been found guilty of other relevant offences, then their vehicle could be impounded for up to 3 months if a court orders this. If the driver has been found guilty of 3 or more relevant offences then their vehicle could be confiscated permanently.

Combination drink/drug driving offences are treated more harshly if the BAC reading is 0.10 or more. For these offences, police can impound or immobilise the vehicle for up to 30 days even if it is the first offence.

See Which are the relevant offences?

Getting a licence back

All drivers who have their licences cancelled for a drug-driving offences must apply to the court for licence eligibility order after serving their period of disqualification.

See How to apply to court for licence eligibility order.

Behaviour change program

In all cases drivers will have to successfully complete a behaviour change program before they are able to drive again unless they are exempted from this.

See Behaviour change program.

More information

Legislation

Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

  • s. 3(1)—defines prescribed illicit drugs and drug-driving infringements
  • s. 48(2)—subsequent offence includes any offence under s. 49(1) or under a corresponding law
  • s. 49(1)(bb)—fail roadside saliva test
  • s. 49(1)(bc)—driving with mixture of alcohol and a prescribed illicit drug
  • s. 49(1)(eb)—refuse to provide sample of oral fluid
  • s. 49(1)(h)—sample of oral fluid containing illicit drugs
  • s. 49(1)(i)—provide blood sample containing illicit drugs
  • s. 49(3AA)—maximum fine for supervising driver
  • s. 49(3AAA)—maximum fines
  • s. 50(1B)—must disqualify drive and cancel licence for DUI offence
  • s. 50(1C)—must disqualify if drug impaired
  • s. 50(1D)—must disqualify for refuse drug assessment/blood or urine tests
  • s. 50(1DA)—must disqualify if refuse roadside oral fluid test
  • s. 50(1E)—court must disqualify or cancel licence
  • s. 84C—tier 1 and tier 2 relevant offences
  • s. 89D(1)—licence suspension for 6 months if driver is fined by infringement notice

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

Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic)

  • item 100, Schedule 7—offences that can be dealt with by issue of an infringement notice

See Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Updated