Criminal law

The Holiday Season: Drink, Drug Driving and the Law

It is important to be reminded of some of the behaviour that can land you in trouble with the law.


With the holiday season upon us, it is important to be reminded of some of the behaviour that can land you in trouble with the law. 

The campaign “4 Men & Women 2” should not be relied upon when considering whether you are okay to drive after drinking alcohol. Everyone metabolises alcohol differently and just because you “feel fine” to drive, does not mean that you are under the legal limit (0.05 on a full licence).

Many clients come to us after being pulled over for drink driving having only consumed two alcoholic drinks (or sometimes less). They had eaten a large meal and were driving carefully. Despite all of these factors, drinking two alcoholic beverages during a meal, does put some people over the legal limit.

The penalties for drink driving are serious. At least four demerit points will be incurred. For a first offence, the common penalty is six months disqualification from driving (this can be more depending on your reading) and at least a $1,000 fine. For a second offence in five years, the disqualification period doubles and the fine increases considerably. In addition, the police have the ability to impound your car for 28 days.

Finding an alternative way home seems an obvious choice when the penalties are presented.

Getting a blood test is one of the few ways a person can challenge the reading.

“Drug Driving” is an offence that is increasingly being detected on our roads. To test whether a person has drugs in his/her system, a saliva test is conducted. The saliva is tested for THC (cannabis), methylamphetamine (speed) and MDMA (ecstasy). It is important to note that any amount of these drugs detected in your system will make out the offence. The quantity of the drug in your system does not matter. The test results do not reveal the quantity -only whether a drug is present. Clients have informed us that they may have consumed a drug on the weekend but not mid-week when they were caught drug driving. It is immaterial whether or not the person consumed a drug immediately before driving. The presence of any amount of THC, methylamphetamine or MDMA in your system whilst driving or attempting to drive will put you at risk of committing a criminal offence.

The penalty for a first offence of drug driving is a fine and four demerit points. For a second offence within five years, six months minimum disqualification and an approximate fine of $1,000.

There is a defence to a charge of drug driving if you can prove that you did not knowingly consume the drug.

When talking about first and second offences in the context of drink driving and drug driving, a drink driving offence committed within five years of a drug driving offence qualifies as a second offence and vice versa.

At this time of year it is particularly important to be careful on our roads. However, if you do find yourself charged with a driving offence it is important to get legal advice immediately.

For advice about issues in this blog, and any other criminal law matter, contact your nearest TGB location.