Key Words: Drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, Section 12(1)(a) Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 – traces of methylamphetamine – pharmacology report – elements of offence could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt – double jeopardy prevents re-prosecution
NJD was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) after she veered her vehicle into three parked cars on a residential road, causing damage to a fourth. Police charged NJD after a number of witnesses claimed that NJD appeared to be affected by drugs or alcohol. A blood and urine sample revealed no evidence of alcohol, but some traces of methylamphetamine (ice).
The matter proceeded to a contested hearing, where the defence produced a report by a consultant research pharmacologist. The report concluded that “the finding of therapeutic levels of methylamphetamine… is insufficient to support the conclusion that the driving ability of Ms Newton was adversely affected”. On this evidence, the elements of driving under the influence could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt, and NJD was found not guilty. It is worth noting that, because police had already charged NJD in relation to this offence, laying new charges of negligent driving would breach the rule of double jeopardy. As such, the finding of not guilty concluded the proceedings against NJD.