What Drugs Do Victoria Police Test For? Your Guide to Roadside Drug Testing This Festival/Camping/Holiday Season

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Josh HarrisThe article What Drugs Do Victoria Police Test For? Your Guide to Roadside Drug Testing This Festival/Camping/Holiday Season is written by Josh Harris, Associate, Doogue + George Defence Lawyers.

Josh Harris was admitted to practice after completing a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. Before joining Doogue + George, he was an associate at the County Court of Victoria to HH Judge Lyon.

Josh is experienced in indictable crimes such as sexual offences, drug trafficking, and culpable driving. When he was a Senior Associate to the Criminal Reserve List, he was involved in the high level planning, administration, and finalising of all criminal matters listed in the County Court.

Police Doing Roadside Drug TestingChristmas is here and for many Victorians that will mean they go on camping trips, away to festivals and on weekends away. If you or your friends plan on using recreational drugs, it is important that you know the rules around drug testing on our roads this holiday season. They are very strict. Drugs stay in your system for a while. Long after you are feeling the effect of the drug you may still test positive and lose your license. The rules around drug testing in Victoria are geared towards discovering the presence of drugs in your system, it is not focused on whether you are actually impaired or not.

What Drugs Do the Police Test for?

In Victoria, the police test for the following drugs:

  • THC
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA
    • Also known as ecstasy
    • When taken in pill form, ecstasy often contains other cutting agents and/or speed.

The police in Victoria do not test for cocaine, ketamine, acid/LSD or mushrooms. Victoria Police have been investigating including cocaine in their testing regime but, as of today, this has not occurred. However, if you are driving while impaired and fail an impairment test (noted below), your blood can be tested for a variety of drugs and cocaine or other drugs may show up in this test.

How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System for a Drug Test?

There is no exact science around how long drugs will show up in your saliva or blood. It depends on a number of factors such as your tolerance, your size, and amount and strength of drugs you have used. A rough guide is in the table below.

Drug Urine Saliva
Methamphetamine (Speed and ice) Up to 4 days Up to 2 days
Cocaine Up to 3 days Up to 2 days
Codeine (strong prescription pain killers) Up to 3 days Up to 3 days
Heroin Up to 3 days Up to 2 days
Marijuana/Hash/Cannabis (THC) Casual user: up to 7 days
Heavy user: up to 30 days
Up to 24 hours (up to 72 hours in rare cases)
MDMA/Ecstasy Up to 3 days Up to 2 days

What Happens If I am Pulled Over and Drug Tested?

Victoria Police can pull anyone over and test them. Often police will set up unmarked cars near the exits of popular festivals. Drug buses may be stationed along major highways when exiting festivals. If you are pulled over, the police officer will have you put a three-pronged test on your tongue. They will return to their car to analyze the sample and you will be required to do a second evidentiary test if you test positive for any of the above drugs. If you test negative, you will be free to leave.

You can also be asked to participate in a roadside impairment assessment which is just like the ones you see in the movies. Finger to the nose. One foot in front of another. They will check your pupils. They must film this. If they believe you are impaired the police can require you to take a blood or urine test to see what drugs are in your system.

Can I Refuse to Be Tested?

If you refuse to be tested after a reasonable request, you can have your license suspended for 2 years for a first offence or 4 years for a second offence (s.49(1)(ca and eb)RSA).

What are the Penalties for Drug Driving?

There is no discretion for loss of license for these charges. You will lose your license. A good lawyer can make sure you only receive the minimum license loss and penalty.

  • Saliva Test (THC, Meth, MDMA)
    • If you are test-positive on a saliva test and charged with drug driving, you will automatically lose your license for 6 months for a first offence and 12 months for a subsequent offence. (s.49(1)(bb) RSA)
  • Driving while impaired (All drugs)
    • If you are charged with impaired drug driving following a failed impairment test, you will lose your license for 12 months for a first offence and 2 years for a subsequent offence. This charge can also attract a sentence of imprisonment for a subsequent offence. (s.49(1)(ba) RSA)
  • Driving under the influence (All drugs)
    • The most serious charge relating to drug driving is driving under the influence to such an extent that you aren’t capable of having proper control of the vehicle. For this charge, you would lose your license for 2 years for a first offence and 4 years for a subsequent offence (s.49(1)(a) RSA).

In all cases, you will be required to attend a behavior change course from a VicRoads-approved provider and apply to the court for a license eligibility order before your license is returned to you (s 31A RSA).

Can the Police Take My Car?

If you commit a second drug driving offence within a 6-year period, the police can impound your car for 45 to 90 days.

If you commit a third offence within a 6 year period, the police can apply to have your vehicle permanently confiscated.

Call Us for Advice

If you test positive on a roadside drug test or are charged with any offences related to drug driving, it is important you contact us to discuss your options. A well prepared plea from a criminal law specialist can ensure that you only receive the minimum suspension period and penalty.

Before speaking to police, you should always ask to speak to a lawyer first. Give us a call for some advice. You have a right to silence and do not have to answer any of the questions a police officer asks you other than questions relating to identification.
Date Published: 16 December 2022

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