Drink and Drug Driving

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Drink Driving

Alcohol impairs a person’s ability to control a vehicle.  Research suggests that at a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.05, the risk of being involved in a traffic crash is double that of a person who has not been drinking at all.

If you have a full unrestricted licence your blood alcohol level reading must be below 0.05 if you want to drive.

If you are a learner (L Plate) driver or provisional (P Plate) driver you must have a 0.00 blood alcohol reading.

You can be asked to do a breath test by police at any time you are driving, or police reasonably suspect you have been driving. Generally failing to, or refusing to provide a sample is an offence.  If you are incapable of providing a breath sample because of your physical condition, police may ask you to provide a blood sample instead if appropriate.

You may only refuse to do a test if you are deemed incapable of providing any sample (eg. you have a medical condition which prevents you from doing the test, or you are injured or passed out and cannot give a sample), or if more than 4 hours has passed since the time that you are believed to have driven the motor vehicle.

If you believe your result is incorrect you should seek legal advice as to how to challenge your test.

If you show a higher reading than the legal blood alcohol level you will be charged with an offence, fined and a conviction recorded.  As a punishment, your licence will be disqualified for a period of time.  If you area learner or provisional driver who has had their licence disqualified, you may have your licence cancelled, and you will have to begin your learner or provisional stage (i.e. P1, P2) again after the disqualification period.

Drug Driving

If you are found to be driving under the influence of drugs you may convicted of an offence which will result in you receiving a fine and having your licence suspended.

As with drink driving, if police suspect that you have been driving under the influence of drugs, they can request that you undergo an assessment of drug impairment. Usually this is done by way of an oral fluid test. Generally, failure or refusal to do the test is an offence.

If you are incapable of providing a sample of oral fluid because of your physical condition, police can request you to do a blood sample instead.

You may only refuse to do the test if you are medically incapable of providing any sample, or if more than 4 hours has passed since the time that you are believed to have driven the motor vehicle.

If you believe your result is incorrect you should seek legal advice as to how to challenge your test.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

If you exceed the legal blood alcohol level or drive whilst under the influence of drugs in the Northern Territory, you could receive a significant fine or jail time, as well as being disqualified from driving. If you drive whilst disqualified, you are likely to receive a term of imprisonment.

In the Northern Territory it is an offence to refuse or fail to partake in a breath test.

You can contact the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission on 1800 019 343 for further advice and information.

If you are Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander you can also contact the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service on 1800 636 079 or the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency on 1800 898 251.

ACT

For information contact Legal Aid ACT.  If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you can contact the Aboriginal Legal Service.

Victoria

If you need legal advice or referrals you can contact the following:

Find more information on the links below:

Tasmania

If you show a higher reading than 0.05 with a full licence the mandatory minimum punishment is 3 months suspension of your license and a large fine, both becoming more severe the higher the reading is and whether or not you have any prior drink driving offences.

If you do lose your licence or have it suspended, you may be able to apply for a restricted licence to be able to drive during specific times of the day (for instance, being able to drive to and from work).

Queensland

Refusal of a duly requested alcohol or drug test may be an offence punishable by a fine of up to $4,400 or 6 months in prison. If you believe your result is incorrect you may ask for further testing, which may include a blood test.