Drug driving Bill passes state parliament

Increased penalties for drug drivers were passed through parliament on Wednesday, which the state government said would send a strong message that lives being put at risk on the road would not be tolerated.

The Statutes Amendment (Drink and Drug Driving) Bill initiatives will see a three month licence disqualification for a first drug driving offence and increased licence disqualification periods for repeat offenders.

A second offence will ensure a 12 month disqualification, up from six months, a third offence will go up from the previous one year to two years, and any subsequent offence will equal a three year disqualification, up from two years.

A new offence for drug or drink driving – a 0.08 blood alcohol content – with a child aged under 16 in the car will have the driver required to undergo a drug or alcohol dependency assessment before a licence can be reissued.

There will be increased penalties for offenders who have lost their licence for drug driving and are caught driving unlicenced, with penalties of up to $5000 or one-year imprisonment and licence disqualification of no less than three years.

Police and Road Safety Minister Chris Picton said after long debate the Bill was passed and the government could continue to fight against drug and drink driving.

“While debate on this Bill has been distracted by periphery issues, this Bill is about road safety,” he said.

“Those who get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol should be put on notice – police will catch you and you will be subjected to tough new penalties.

“The government will continue to fight to allow police to search drivers and their vehicles if they return a positive roadside drug test.”

The state government introduced the Statutes Amendment (Drink and Drug Driving) Bill in parliament in May to toughen penalties for drug-drivers and to allow police the ability to search cars driven by motorists who test positive for drug use.

This power to search was a recommendation of the state government’s Ice Taskforce, to reduce the damaging incidence of ice use in the community.