Drivers in South Australia now face an immediate loss of license if they test positive during roadside drug-testing.
The new laws are already in effect and seal a loophole that allowed drives who tested positive to still be able to continue to drive.
Drivers who test positive to drugs will now receive an Immediate Loss of Licence (ILOL) notice by South Australia Police (SAPOL).
Previously, they were issued with either an expiation notice or a court summons, which allowed them to continue driving in the meantime.
If drivers are convicted of drug offences by the local court, a minimum six-month disqualification is issued provided it is their first offence, and additional lengths apply to those that carry previous drug-driving related offences.
Upon reapplication of their licence, drivers will receive a probationary license which states they must have a zero blood alcohol and drug reading while driving and carry the licence at all times.
The South Australian Government said that between 2017 and 2021, 20 per cent of drivers or motorcycle riders killed on local roads tested positive for cannabis, methylamphetamine, MDMA or a combination of these drugs.
Over 2020-21, SAPOL says it conducted 33,790 roadside drug tests with 5317 returning a positive result.
“There is no place on South Australian roads for selfish and idiotic 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 using drugs. These new laws will ensure those selfish motorists have a stern wake-up call.
“The reckless decisions of drug drivers put everyone’s life 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 hard and clear message that reckless driving and those who choose to drive with drugs in their system are making a very dangerous decision. They do not deserve to be on the road,” said Ian Parrott, assistant commissioner of the South Australian police.
The law changes don’t just revolve around drug-driving.
ILOL notices can also now be issued for people driving recklessly or dangerously, which could see their licence suspended or disqualified, while the maximum fine for exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or more has been raised to $5000 for first offences.
The South Australian Government has also introduced a 12-month jail term to drivers who already have a suspended or disqualified license and yet continue to drive, up from six months. Motorists who are convicted of a subsequent offence can also now be jailed for three years, up from two.
The changes allow SAPOL to take away peoples’ licences in more circumstances.
Previously, SAPOL could only issue an ILOL notice to drivers accused of the following:
- Exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or more over 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)
- Refusing a drug or alcohol test
- Committing an extreme speed offence
- Causing death by use of a motor vehicle