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Trains, trams and boats

This page explains the drink and drug driving offences for train and tram drivers.

Similar offences exist for drivers of tram, train and boats who are caught driving with alcohol or illicit drugs in their breath or blood.

Train and tram drivers

Offences for train and tram drivers, defined as rail safety workers, are set out in the National Law Application Act (Victoria) 2013 by Victoria's adoption of the South Australian Schedule. Division 9 of Part 3 of that Schedule deals with drug and alcohol testing. Additional provisions are set out in Part 4A of the Victorian Act.


Who is a rail safety worker?

A rail safety worker is broadly defined as any individual who has, is or is about to carry out rail safety work. A Railway is defined to include any guided system designed for the movement of rolling stock, having the capability to transport passengers and/or freight. It includes heavy and light railways, tramways and monorails.

Specific exclusions are listed (for example an underground railway associated with a mine, aerial cables).

See cll.4, 7—Schedule—Rail Safety National Law Application Act 2012 (South Australia)(opens in a new window)

What is safety work?

Safety work is defined very widely and includes anyone who:

  • drives or despatches rolling stock, or any other activity which is capable of controlling or affecting the movement of rolling stock.
  • signals, receives or relays communications or any other activity that can control or affect the movement of rolling stock
  • couples or uncouples carriages (or parts of rolling stock)
  • maintains, repairs or modifies, inspects or tests rolling stock or rail infrastructure
  • manages public safety on any railway
  • installs or maintains:
    • telecommunications system relating to rail infrastructure or
    • the way electricity is supplied directly to rail infrastructure or any rolling stock or a telecommunications system..

For the full definition, see cl.8—Schedule—Rail Safety National Law Application Act 2012 (South Australia)(opens in a new window)

Testing for presence of drugs or alcohol

People authorised to conduct testing for presence of illicit drugs or alcohol are appointed by the National Rail Safety Regulator. In Victoria authorisation is given by the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. These authorised people may conduct:

  • preliminary breath tests
  • breath analysis
  • drug screening tests
  • oral fluid analysis.
  • urine or blood tests.


Prescribed drugs or alcohol

A worker must not have any:

  • alcohol present in their system, that is they must have zero BAC
  • cannabis
  • methamphetamine or
  • MDMA

See s. 128—Schedule—Rail Safety National Law Application Act 2012 (South Australia)(opens in a new window)


It is an offence to carry out or attempt to carry out rail safety work while there is a prescribed drug or prescribed concentration of alcohol present in their blood or oral fluid. A person could be held to be attempting to carry out rail safety work if they turn up at work.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty is $10 000

Part s. 48A in 4A, Division 2 sets out additional offences involving drugs or alcohol.

See s. 128—Schedule—Rail Safety National Law Application Act 2012 (South Australia)(opens in a new window)

Bus drivers

Bus drivers, must follow the drink driving laws, just like other road users. Because buses are 'large vehicles' the drivers must have zero alcohol BAC.

In addition all bus company operators have to develop, maintain and implement an alcohol and drug management policy. They can be fined if they don't do this. The policy must state that bus drivers must not have alcohol or other drugs present in their blood or breath immediately before driving or while they are driving.

This policy may also contain provisions for testing of drivers.

Maximum penalty

  • 240 penalty units for a person (owner of a bus company), or
  • 1200 penalty units for a company.

See ss. 56, 57—Bus Safety Act 2009 (Vic) and ss. 3, 52(1A)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).

Boats, jet skis and other marine vessels

The laws that prohibit drink and drug driving for motor vehicles are similar to those that apply to people operating vessels on waterways in Victoria. Currently only police have the power to conduct random breath tests on marine drivers, observers and anyone being towed.

There are offences for:

  • being incapable of having proper control while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug
  • being over the limit,
  • providing a sample of breath or blood that contains more than the prescribed concentration of alcohol (within 3 hours of being in control of a vessel)
  • being drug impaired
  • refusing to undergo breath, blood tests or drug impairment assessments.

Penalties are higher if the person has been caught before. The driver is also likely to be disqualified from operating a vessel and will lose their licence. Minimum licence disqualification periods are set out in Schedule 1 of the Act.

A person may also have their marine licence immediately suspended if their BAC is 0.10 or more.

See s. 28, 28A, 28B, Schedule 1—Marine (Drug, Alcohol and Pollution Control Act 1988 (Vic)(opens in a new window)

What is a vessel?

A vessel is very broadly defined as any kind of vessel capable of being used in navigation by water, however propelled or moved. It includes:

  • barge, floating restaurant of other floating vessel
  • air-cushion vehicle of similar craft
  • aircraft that is designed for and cable of being waterborn
  • lifeboats
  • anything being towed by a vessel
  • anything prescribed to be a vessel.

See s. 3—Maine Safety Act 2010 (Vic)(opens in a new window)

Jet skis

Jet skis are included in the definition of personal watercraft. Personal watercraft are vessels that must be registered and:

  • have an engine
  • have a fully enclosed hull
  • do not retain water if they capsize
  • are designed to be operated by a person standing, sitting astride, or kneeling on the vessel, but not seated within the vessel.

All jet skis and other personal watercraft must be registered and must follow the laws prohibiting use of these vessels while alcohol or illicit drugs are present.

The Maritime Safety Victoria site has information about safe use of personal recreational vessels and how to get a licence.

See Maritime Safety Victoria(opens in a new window)

How much is too much?

People operating regulated recreation vessels must have zero BAC if they are under 21 years old. Other drivers must have less than ).05.

See ss. 3, 28— Marine (Drug, Alcohol and Pollution Control Act 1988 (Vic)(opens in a new window)

More information


Rail Safety National Law Application Act 2013 (Vic)

This Law adopts the National rail safety law sponsored by South Australia. This law is set out in the Schedule of the Rail Safety National Law Application Act (South Australia) 2012. So the Schedule from the South Australian Act is referred to as the Rail Safety National Law (Victoria). It is important to note that some aspects of drink driving law are specific to Victoria. These are set out in Part 4A of this Act.

Important definitions come from the SA Schedule.

  • s. 6—adopts the national law as the law of Victoria (but excludes Part 4A )
  • Part 4A—Alcohol and drug controls for rail safety (additional requirements under Victorian law)

See Rail Safety National Law Application Act 2013 (Vic).

Go directly to Schedule—Rail Safety National Law Application Act 2012 (South Australia)(opens in a new window)

Rail Safety National Law Application Act (South Australia) 2012

  • Part 2 establishes the office of the National Rail Safety Regulator
  • Schedule
    • cl. 4—defines 'rails safety worker', 'railway'
    • cl. 8—defines rail safety work
    • Part 3, Division 9—drug and alcohol testing by regulator

See Rail Safety National Law Application Act (South Australia) 2012(opens in a new window)

Bus Safety Act 2009 (Vic)

  • s. 56—alcohol and drug management policy
  • s. 57—what the drug management policy must contain

See Bus Safety Act 2009 (Vic).

Marine (Drug, Alcohol and Pollution Control Act 1988 (Vic)

  • s. 3 defines the 'prescribed concentration of alcohol'
  • Part 4—Offences involving alcohol or other drugs
    • s. 27—defines 'operate', 'at anchor', 'vessel underway'
    • s. 28—offences involving alcohol or other drugs
    • s. 28A—provisions about cancellation and disqualification
    • s. 28B—previous convictions
    • s. 28C—immediate suspension of marine licence in certain circumstances
  • Schedule 1—minimum disqualification periods

See Marine (Drug, Alcohol and Pollution Control Act 1988 (Vic)(opens in a new window)

Marine Safety Act

  • s. 3—defines 'master' of a vessel as a person having command or charge of the vessel, 'personal watercraft',

See Marine Safety Act 2010(opens in a new window)


Victoria Police Manual

The Victoria Police Manual has information about testing public transport employees.

See Victoria Police Manual—Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Trasport Safety Victoria

This statutory body is respnsible for administering bus and marine safety laws, monitoring compliance and taking enforcement action if necessary.

See Trasport Safety Victoria(opens in a new window)

Maritime Safety Victoria

This site, is part of the Transport Safety Victoria site. It has information about getting a licence, and the rules and laws for safe boating.

For information about drinking and other drugs see Maritime Safety Victoria—Alcohol and drugs(opens in a new window).