Drivers in South Australia now face the immediate loss of their license if they test positive during a roadside drug test.
The new law has already come into effect and closes a loophole that allows drivers who test positive to continue driving.
Drivers who test positive for drugs will now receive an Immediate Loss of License (ILOL) notice by the South Australian Police (SAPOL).
Previously, they were given either a expiation notice or a court summons, which allowed them to continue driving in the meantime.
If a driver is convicted of a drug offense by a local court, a minimum disqualification of six months is issued provided it is their first offence, and an additional period applies to those with previous drug driving offences.
After reapplying for their license, drivers will receive a probationary license that states they must have a zero blood alcohol and drug reading while driving and carry the license at all times.
The South Australian government says between 2017 and 2021, 20 per cent of motorists or motorcyclists killed on local roads will test positive for cannabis, methylamphetamine, MDMA or a combination of these drugs.
During 2020-21, SAPOL said it conducted 33,790 roadside drug tests with 5317 showing positive results.
“There is no place on South Australia’s roads for selfish and stupid drug drivers,” said Joe Szakacs, South Australia’s minister for police, emergency services and correctional services.
“It beggars belief that some people think it’s acceptable to drive after taking drugs. These new laws will ensure selfish drivers have a stern wake-up call.
“The reckless decisions of drugged drivers put everyone’s lives at risk on the road, and all South Australians have seen the results of what can happen when people choose to get behind the wheel with drugs in their system.”
“Driving is a privilege. These changes send a loud and clear message that reckless driving and those who choose to drive with drugs in their system are making a very dangerous decision. They don’t deserve to be on the road,” said Ian Parrott, South Australia’s assistant police commissioner.
Law changes are not just about drugged driving.
ILOL notices can also now be issued for people driving recklessly or dangerously, which can see their license suspended or disqualified, while the maximum fine for exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or more has been increased to $5000 for a first offence.
The South Australian government has also introduced a 12-month prison sentence for drivers who already have a suspended or disqualified license and continue to drive, up from six months. Drivers convicted of subsequent offenses can also now be jailed for three years, up from two years.
The change allows SAPOL to take citizen licenses in more circumstances.
Previously, SAPOL could only issue ILOL notices to drivers accused of the following:
- Exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or more than the signed speed limit
- Drink driving with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08 and 0.149 (six-month disqualification) and 0.150 or higher (12-month disqualification)
- Refusal of drug or alcohol tests
- Commit an excessive speeding offense
- Causing death by using a motor vehicle