Drug-driving penalties

Drivers face harsh penalties if they are caught driving with illicit drugs in their system.

Tougher penalties introduced in Victoria

As of 30 April 2018 if you get caught driving with illicit drugs in your system, you'll lose your licence for longer, and will also need to complete a compulsory Behaviour Change Program.

You can be given a penalty for:

  • failing a roadside drug test
  • driving while impaired by a drug
  • refusing to undertake a roadside drug test and/or impairment test by Victoria Police.

To find out about the penalties that apply for combined drink and drug-driving offences visit Combined drink and drug-driving penalties.

On the spot suspension

The police also have the power to immediately suspend your licence or learner permit if they charge you with certain drug-driving offences. This suspension lasts until your charges have been decided in court.

If you fail a roadside drug test you may face penalties. There are different penalties depending on whether it is your first offence or if you’ve been caught before. The following table explains the different penalties when caught with illicit drugs in your system.

Offence Penalties
First drug-driving offence and you received a Traffic Infringement Notice

You will:

  • receive a fine to the value of 3 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit suspended for 6 months
  • need to complete a Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.
First drug-driving offence and you are required to go to court

You will:

  • receive a fine of up to the value of 12 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 6 months
  • need to complete a Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.

The court may also record a conviction.

Second drug-driving offence
You will:
  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 60 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 12 months
  • need to complete an Intensive Drink and Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.

The court may also record a conviction.

More than two drug-driving offences
You will:
  • go to court 
  • receive a fine of up to 120 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 12 months
  • need to complete an Intensive Drink and Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.

The court may also record a conviction.

If you fail a roadside drug test you may face penalties. There are different penalties depending on whether it is your first offence or if you have been caught before. The following table explains the different penalties when caught with illicit drugs in your system.

You’ll need to complete a Driver Education Program if: 

  • you were under 25 when you committed the offence, or
  • directed to do so by the Magistrates' Court. 

Refer to Behaviour Change Program providers to arrange to complete the program.

Offence Penalties
First drug-driving offence and you received a Traffic Infringement Notice (TIN)

You will:

  • receive a fine of 3 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit suspended for 3 months.
First drug-driving offence and you are required to go to court

You will:

  • receive a fine of up to 12 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 3 months.

The court may also record a conviction.

Second drug-driving offence

You will:

  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 60 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 6 months.

The court may also record a conviction.

More than two drug-driving offences

You will:

  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 120 penalty units, or 18 months imprisonment
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 6 months.

The court may also record a conviction.

If police stop you, they can do a preliminary assessment of physical factors such as your behaviour, balance and coordination. If this assessment shows that you may be impaired by an illicit drug, you will need to give blood and/or urine samples.

You will be given a penalty if you are found guilty of Driving While Impaired. There are different penalties depending on whether it is your first offence or if you have been caught before.  

Offence Penalties
First drug-driving offence

You will:

  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 12 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 12 months
  • need to complete a Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.

The court may also record a conviction.

Second drug-driving offence

You will:

  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 120 penalty units, or 12 months imprisonment
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 2 years
  • need to complete an Intensive Drink and Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.

The court may also record a conviction.

More than two drug-driving offences

You will:

  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 180 penalty units, or 18 months imprisonment
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 2 years
  • need to complete an Intensive Drink and Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.

The court may also record a conviction.

If police stop you, they can do a preliminary assessment of physical factors such as your behaviour, balance and coordination. If this assessment shows that you may be impaired by an illicit drug, you will need to give blood and/or urine samples.

You will be given a penalty if you are found guilty of Driving While Impaired. There are different penalties depending on whether it is your first offence or if you have been caught before. 

You’ll need to complete a Driver Education Program if: 

  • you were under 25 when you committed the offence, or
  • directed to do so by the Magistrates' Court. 

Refer to Behaviour Change Program providers to arrange to complete the program.

Offence Penalties
First drug-driving offence

You will:

  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 12 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 12 months.

The court may also record a conviction.

Second drug-driving offence

You will:

  • got to court
  • receive a fine of up to 120 penalty units, or 12 months imprisonment
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 2 years.

The court may also record a conviction.

More than two drug-driving offences

You will:

  • go to court
  • receive a fine of up to 180 penalty units, or 18 months imprisonment
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 2 years.

The court may also record a conviction.


What happens if I refuse to cooperate with police?

Failing to comply with a Victoria Police Officer’s instruction for you to undertake roadside breath and/or drug testing requirements, or refusing to give a saliva, blood or urine sample could result in you receiving even harsher penalties.

You will be charged with a refusal offence, go to court and if found guilty, you will:

  • receive a fine of up to 12 penalty units
  • have your licence or learner permit cancelled for at least 24 months
  • need to complete an Intensive Drink and Drug Driver Behaviour Change Program.

 

What is the law relating to alcohol and other drugs?

See our Alcohol and other drugs road rules webpage for more information.

 

What is a penalty unit?

The value of a penalty unit changes each financial year and is published on the Department of Justice and Regulation website.

The value of a fine is the value of the penalty unit multiplied by the number of penalty units for the offence.

 

What is saliva testing?

Saliva testing is used for roadside screening of illicit drugs. To give a saliva sample you will be asked to place the collecting device in your mouth or to touch it to your tongue.

The sample is then tested for the presence of the prescribed illicit drugs (Methylamphetamine, amphetamine and cannabis). This takes about five minutes. If the saliva screening test shows there are drugs in your system, you will have to have further tests. Your saliva sample will also be tested by a laboratory. Only if the laboratory results confirm that one or all of the prescribed illicit drugs were in your system will you be charged and face penalties.   

 

What is the difference between licence suspension and cancellation?

If your driver licence or learner permit is suspended, you cannot drive for a specific period of time (e.g. 3 months). When this period has finished, your licence or permit becomes valid again.

If your driver licence or learner permit is cancelled, you cannot drive for a specific period (e.g. 12 months) and you will need to apply to VicRoads to get your driver licence/learner permit back. You may need to get a Licence Eligibility Order from a Magistrates’ Court first.

 

How do I get my licence or learner permit back?

See our Drug-driving & other offences page for more information about getting your licence or learner permit back.

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