Drug driving involves driving when you have drugs in your system.
It is different to a DUI charge as there is no requirement for the prosecution to prove that you were affected by the drugs – it is enough that you had drugs in your system.
Being charged with drug driving can have a devastating impact on your future life, affecting your ability to drive and work.
However, as Sydney’s leading drug and traffic law specialists, our lawyers are equipped with the knowledge and experience to help you defend the charges, so that you can get your life back on track as quickly as possible.
Read on to find out how our expert defence team can help you achieve the best possible result in your drug driving case.
Your Options in Court
To be found guilty of drug driving, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving on a road with drugs in your system.
Police will determine whether you have drugs in your system by conducting a drug test.
Generally, police will require you to provide a saliva sample via a lick test, however in some cases, for example, where you have had an accident, they can conduct a blood or urine test to detect whether you have drugs in your system.
If you wish to plead ‘not guilty’ to drug driving, our expert defence lawyers can help you fight the matter by raising problems with the prosecution case.
A common way to avoid a conviction is to prove that police obtained evidence illegally. When carrying out drug tests, police have to abide by certain rules and procedures – when they fail to comply with these processes, the evidence that they obtained illegally may be dismissed and you may be found ‘not guilty.’
Our lawyers often get charges dropped on this basis.
We can also help you identify and raise any defences to the charges, which will result in a finding of “not guilty” if accepted by the court. These include:
- Where the drugs in question were prescribed to you by a doctor
- Where you were threatened or coerced into drug driving (duress)
If you do not wish to fight the charges, you may consider pleading guilty from the outset.
Often, pleading guilty at an early opportunity is a good option as it will show to the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. In most cases, this will mean that the court will give you a lesser sentence compared to what you could have received if you pleaded not guilty.
However, you should always ensure that you speak to a specialist lawyer with in-depth knowledge of drug and traffic law before entering a plea, as there may be a way in which you can defend the charges and be found ‘not guilty.’
If you are considering pleading guilty, it is important to be aware of the penalties that you could face.
The maximum penalty for drug driving is a fine of $1,100. You will also be automatically disqualification period of 6 months.
If it’s your second or subsequent drug driving offence, you could be facing a penalty of $2,200 and a disqualification period of 12 months.
However, it’s important to remember that these are maximum penalties only – usually the penalty that you will receive will be much lower than the maximum, which is reserved only for the most serious cases.
In fact, an experienced traffic lawyer can persuade the Magistrate to reduce the disqualification period to the minimum, which is 3 months for your first offence, or 6 months if it is your second or subsequent major traffic offence in the past 5 years.
In some cases, a good traffic lawyer may even be able to persuade the Magistrate to grant you a ‘section 10 dismissal or conditional release order’, which means that although you are guilty there is no conviction recorded, no disqualification and no fine.
The type of penalty that you will receive will ultimately depend on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Other penalties that the court may consider awarding include:
Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?
If you have been charged with drug driving, it is important to get the help of an experienced traffic or drug lawyer.
This is because a drug driving charge could end up on your criminal record, which could affect your employment prospects, as well as your ability to travel.
At Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, we specialise in drug and traffic law.
Our expert lawyers appear in court on a daily basis in relation to drug and traffic matters, armed with the knowledge and experience to ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcome in each case.
If you wish to defend the charges, our lawyers will thoroughly examine all the evidence to find problems with the prosecution case – for example, where police have conducted an illegal drug test.
We will then write to police explaining these issues and asking for the charges to be dropped.
Where the prosecution refuses to drop the charges, our dedicated traffic law experts will obtain all relevant evidence, as well as expert witnesses to ensure that your case is put forth in the most favourable light.
Should you wish to plead guilty, our outstanding advocates will prepare compelling sentencing submissions which highlight factors like your good character, as well as any steps that you have taken to address your offending.
This will maximise your chances of getting the best possible outcome in your case.
In some cases, our lawyers may be able to help you avoid a conviction altogether by persuading the magistrate to issue you with a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order, which is where you are found guilty of the offence, but no conviction is recorded on your criminal record.
Most importantly, a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order means that you will not be disqualified from driving or be made to pay a fine – you will get to keep your licence and stay on the road.