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What You Need to Know About Drug Driving in South Australia

Defending a drug driving accusation is important if you want to keep your licence

Drug driving, like drink driving, can have serious consequences to your driving privileges in South Australia. Some offences may result in imprisonment. This article will help you understand the three offences that you could face and the defences you have if you are suspected of driving after using drugs.


Driving under the influence of a drug means the drug has made the driver incapable of exercising effective control of a motor vehicle. This is the most serious charge but it is often the easiest to defend. An argument can sometimes be made that poor driving was caused by some factor other the consumption of a drug. In other words, a driver may be capable of controlling a vehicle even if a momentary distraction caused a lapse in good driving.

A driver is under the influence if the driver’s mental or physical faculties were impaired by use of the drug. Yet other factors unrelated to drug use, such as fatigue, may explain why a driver appears to be impaired. Evidence of that nature may help defend against a DUI charge.

The penalties for DUI always include a fine. Additional penalties are:

If the court finds that the offence was trifling, however, the minimum licence disqualification is one month.

Second offence

Driving With Prescribed Drug

The police can randomly request saliva samples from drivers to test them for prescribed drugs. The prescribed drugs are:

  • THC (cannabis)
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • Methylamphetamine

The presence of any amount of a prescribed drug is an offence even if it does not impair the ability to drive. No charges will be laid until a second sample is confirmed by laboratory analysis. An effective lawyer can often challenge the test results, particularly if the police do not follow proper procedures in collecting or preserving the test samples.

In addition to a fine, the penalties for driving with a prescribed drug are:

First offence

  • 4 demerit points
  • If the case goes to court, a judge can impose a licence disqualification of not less than 3 months.

Second offence

Third offence

Subsequent offences

Refusing a test

Refusing to submit a requested saliva or blood sample is an offence. In some cases a defence is available if you had a good reason for refusing.

In addition to a fine, the penalties for refusing a test are:

First offence

Subsequent offence

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