Under section 49 of the Road Safety Act (RSA), it is an office to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the degree that the driver is incapable of having proper control of the vehicle.
While the blood alcohol content for alcohol is 0.05, the presence of any quantity of illicit drugs in a driver’s system, or even a legal or prescription drug that might make them incapable of properly controlling a vehicle, can result in a drug driving charge under the RSA. It is also an offence to supervise a learner driver while under the influence of drugs.
The Victorian government has significantly bolstered its efforts to decrease drug driving and has significantly increased the number of devices to be used for roadside drug testing. Drug testing units detect the presence of illegal substances, including methamphetamine (ice), cannabis, ecstasy, speed, and certain prescription drugs.
Police are empowered to request a sample of saliva under section 55 of the RSA if they suspect that a driver is under the influence of an illicit drug, or a legal drug that impairs their ability to properly control the vehicle. If the driver refuses a roadside saliva test, they may be charged under section 55D of the RSA.
If this test shows the presence of illicit drugs or a legal, impairing drug in the driver’s system, the police may require the driver to undergo a second saliva test at either a police station or at a nearby drug and alcohol bus. If a driver is unable to provide a saliva sample or if the testing unit is not in working order, the police may require the driver to provide a blood sample under section 55E(13).
If testing indicates the presence of illicit drugs, then a sample of saliva or blood is provided to both the police and the driver, who can request another analysis to be performed by a medical practitioner while the officer is present. After a positive indication of illicit substances, or a legal drug that impairs the driver’s ability to properly control the vehicle is found, the driver may be charged and the testing officer may issue an infringement notice. Depending on the severity of the offence, the driver may be summoned to appear in court, and/or have their licence immediately suspended.
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