Drive While Impaired By Drugs

It is an offence to Drive While Impaired By Drugs (Drug Driving) under section 49 of the Road Safety Act 1986. It is a criminal offence committed by a person driving a vehicle whilst under the influence of drugs.

Have you been accused of Drive While Impaired By Drugs (Drug Driving)? You will need expert legal advice to represent you in Court because the consequences on your driver’s licence can be significant depending on the circumstances.

drive while impaired by drugs
Police Interview

For a charge like this, the police will generally conduct a field interview. They will ask you standard questions. You must be aware that anything you tell police is being written down and will appear in a brief of evidence against you if it helps their case.

Your answers to their questions can impact how you will be able to run your case in Court.

It is always worth while taking the opportunity before the interview to speak with a lawyer.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty because you deny that you had taken drugs before driving or were not ‘impaired’, you may take your matter to a contested hearing. This is where a Magistrate will hear all of the evidence and make a finding. One of our expert defence lawyers can represent you and formulate a case strategy for you which will increase your chances of an acquittal. Our lawyers are pro-active and do not accept the police brief at face value. Our lawyers will advise you of your option to engage an appropriately qualified expert to provide a report and give evidence if this is helpful to your defence. Our lawyers will also request disclosure material, which police do not automatically serve.

Pleading Guilty

One of our lawyers can review the brief of evidence and advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Driving while Impaired by Drugs. If the case is strong and you decide to plead guilty, one of our lawyers can represent you in Court. Although the minimum licence disqualification periods for this offence are mandatory, a Magistrate has discretion to go above the mandatory minimum disqualification period. The aim of the Plea Hearing is to present well formulated plea submissions to satisfy the Magistrate not to exceed the mandatory minimum disqualification period and reduce the penalty.

Our lawyers are experienced Court advocates and have appeared on many pleas of guilty for Driving while Impaired by Drugs. Our lawyers will provide you with clear advice of what you should priorities doing before Court to get the best possible outcome.


Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria
Sentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Drive or Be In Charge of a Motor Vehicle While Impaired By a Drug in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria Between 2018 and 2021

Examples of Drive While Impaired By Drugs
  • Driving a car after taking illegal drugs
  • Being stopped by the Police for a drug test and refusing to take the test
  • You did not take any illegal drugs
  • You took other legal medication (i.e. sinus medication) that has shown up as illegal drugs
  • There has been an error in the taking of your sample

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions that are asked in cases like this:
  • Were you on any medication at the time?
  • Did you take any illegal drugs before driving?
Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

There is a maximum penalty of a fine of 12 penalty units for anyone found guilty of drug driving (s49 of the Road Safety Act 1986) as a first offence, including a licence disqualification of at least 12 months.

For a second time offence, the maximum penalty is a 6 month disqualification and up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of 120 penalty units.

For the third or more time offence, the maximum penalty is 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine of 180 penalty units.

New regulations that came into effect from 31 January 2018 mean that Victorian offenders will face Victorian driving penalties should they be caught interstate.

The offence of driving while impaired by drugs is a charge regularly heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

“Did you take drugs and drive?”
What is the legal definition of Drive While Impaired By Drugs?

Driving while under the influence of an illicit drug.

The Law

The section that covers this offence is section 49 of the Road Safety Act 1986.

Other Important Resources
Case Studies