New laws are set to come into effect in September which will increase the penalties for drug driving and illegal mobile phone use. These are the changes that you need to know to ensure that you avoid being hit with demerit points, a fine or licence disqualification.
Mobile Drug Testing Regime
The current system of mobile drug tests (MDTs) can detect the presence of several illegal drugs in a driver’s system including cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamines. But if police suspect that you are under the influence of another drug, you can be arrested and asked to take a blood test to determine whether you were driving under the influence of drugs.
Driving under the influence of prescription drugs
It has been announced earlier this year that, from September, the crackdown on drug driving will extend to prescription drugs. If you are found driving with certain prescription drugs in your system such as painkillers containing codeine, cold and flu tablets or any prescription medication that can cause drowsiness, you could run the risk of being charged for driving under the influence.
The new regime will see GPs and pharmacists provided with training that will help identify people who may be at risk of drug driving. This will be based on the type of medication that a person is prescribed and the possible effects of the drugs.
However, as we’ve previously written about, the current mobile drug testing regime has its problems. The mere presence of any drug, whether legal or illegal, could see you penalised, or even charged and prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs. This ignores the level of impairment that the drug has on your driving with MDTs unable to detect the time that you took the drug.
Mobile Phone Usage
Legislation that was introduced in July enabled the use of camera-based technology to catch drivers in the act of illegally using their mobile phones whilst driving.
The new laws to be introduced in September will also extend to mobile phone usage with an increase from four to five demerit points applied to illegal mobile phone usage. This will be the harshest penalty for illegal mobile phone usage in Australia.
Contact a Sydney Criminal Lawyer
If you have been charged with a driving offence, or want to challenge a penalty for drink driving, drug driving or using your mobile phone whilst driving, speak to one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers. Call us on (02) 9261 4281 to book a free first consultation.