Australia’s first legislation aims to eliminate irresponsible drug drivers


The Road Traffic Amendment Bill (Drug Driving and Reckless or Dangerous Driving) 2021 is another important step – part of a series of measures already implemented by the Liberal Marshall government since 2018 – towards increased road safety for the community.

Road Safety Minister Vincent Tarzia said the bill will allow SAPOL to issue a 3-month Instant License Loss (ILOL) if a positive road drug test (DST) is returned.

Over 6,270 drivers were detected with drugs in their system in 2019/20. Tragically, 311 (23%) drivers and motorcyclists who lost their lives on our roads between 2015 and 2019 tested positive for drugs.

“This nationally leading road safety measure is taking drug drivers off the streets the second they test positive for illegal substances,” said Minister Tarzia.

“Drivers who take drugs and get behind the wheel have a death wish. It is unacceptable, unfair and tragic that their selfish choices end up cutting someone else’s life short.

“This legislation is crucial to strengthen road safety for every motorist and pedestrian.

“We cannot forget that driving is a privilege, not a right. The Marshall government is committed to ensuring that every motorist returns home safely. “

There is currently no ILOL for driving while under the influence of drugs. If a driver returns a positive roadside DST, an oral fluid sample is collected and provided to Forensic Science SA for spectrometric analysis.

If the spectrometric analysis gives a positive result, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles notifies the driver of the disqualification of his 3-month license.

This means there is a 28-day delay between the initial daylight saving time before a license loss is enforced, leaving drug drivers free to put lives at risk.

SA-BEST and MLC attorney general spokeswoman Connie Bonaros said she had advocated strongly for the important reform.

“SA-BEST is happy that common sense has prevailed and welcomes the new strict measures proposed by the state government,” she said.

“We have worked closely with the government and SAPOL on this proposed new legislation in a collaborative effort to reduce the prevalence of drug drivers on our roads.

“It is obvious. The prevalence of drug drivers on our roads is totally unacceptable.

“Make no mistake, drug drivers on our roads kill or seriously injure innocent people. “

SAPOL will also be able to decide whether the ILOL should be issued at the roadside or if the circumstances require additional testing.

The bill will also make changes in the following categories:

Excessive speed

Excessive speed occurs if a driver is traveling 45 km / h or more over the speed limit.

Currently, a driver can only be issued an ILOL for speeding if he has received an expiation notice for the offense. SAPOL cannot issue ILOL if the driver is charged with the offense and has to report to court.

The bill will allow SAPOL to issue a 6-month ILOL for the speeding offense, regardless of whether the offense is expiated or the driver is charged.

The bill extends the application of aggravating factors to the speeding offense and increases the number of factors to reflect those that apply to the speeding offense.

The bill will also introduce a penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment if the offense is committed in aggravating circumstances, or if it is a repeat offense. Imprisonment is currently not available for a speeding offense.

Reckless and dangerous driving

Currently, a roadside ILOL for reckless and dangerous driving cannot be issued. The offense is not expiable and the offenders must be prosecuted. The maximum penalty is currently 2 years imprisonment.

The bill allows SAPOL to issue a 12-month roadside ILOL for reckless and dangerous driving.

The bill also changes the maximum penalties for reckless and dangerous driving for:

  • For a first offense – $ 5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years; Where
  • For a subsequent offense – imprisonment for 3 years.

Driving during a disqualification

Currently, the maximum penalties for offenders who drive while prohibited are as follows:

  • For a first offense – imprisonment for 6 months; Where
  • For a subsequent offense – imprisonment for 2 years.

The bill will strengthen penalties for those violators, who have already endangered other road users and ignored disqualification.

The bill increases the maximum penalties:

  • For a first offense – imprisonment for 12 months; Where
  • For a subsequent offense – imprisonment for 3 years.

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