Roadside Drug Testing: Your Rights & Responsibilities

With the festive season upon us, the police presence on our roads is set to increase. By 2020, the NSW Centre for Road Safety expects up to 200,000 roadside tests will be undertaken each year[1]. In this blog, we’ll cover the mobile drug testing (MDT) procedures including; what happens during a test, what happens if you test positive and the relevant penalties.

Penalties for drug driving offences

In May 2019, the penalties for drug and alcohol driving offences were updated. For first-time offences there is an immediate 3-month licence suspension and a $572 fine. You may elect to take your matter to court and appeal the decision. Seeking legal advice from qualified drug driving lawyers is highly recommended before pursuing this course of action. For a full list of potential penalties for drug or alcohol driving offences, visit the RMS website.

What happens during an MDT?

The police may conduct a roadside test at any time, in any place and do not require a specific reason to do so. This includes being pulled over for a separate offence after which they decide a drug test should be conducted.

The drug test is taken by mouth. You are asked to put a small oral swab in your mouth which will detect any drugs in your system. If this swab returns negative, you may leave.

Can you refuse a test?

Refusing a drug test will incur the same penalty as though you tested positive for drugs. It is recommended that you cooperate reasonably with police and undertake the test.

Which drugs are tested for?

The oral swabs test for cannabis, cocaine, speed/ice and ecstasy.

Testing positive

If you test positive in the oral swab for drugs, you’ll be asked to exit the vehicle and taken to a separate roadside facility for a follow up test. The second test is more accurate. If your second sample is negative, you may return to your vehicle. Your test will be sent to a lab for further analysis and if this shows any results you may hear again from the police. It is likely that police will then issue you with a Court Attendance Notice (CAN) for an offence of “drive with prescribed illicit drug in person’s oral fluid, blood or urine” which carries a heavy fine, criminal conviction and a licence disqualification period.

If your second test is also positive, you will face an immediate 24-hour driving ban and your test will be sent to a lab for further analysis. The 24-hour ban includes leaving the testing site and you will be required to find alternative transport.

Contact one of Sydney’s leading drug law firms

If you would like advice on how to avoid a conviction and licence disqualification for a drug driving offence, our professional team of Sydney-based drug lawyers are here to help. Call 1800 100 529 for 24/7 legal assistance or submit your enquiry online using our form.

[1] Centre for Road Safety:

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