Information on Roadside Drug Testing in Victoria
05 October, 2022
The rules and regulations for roadside drug testing in Victoria have changed dramatically over the years, owing primarily to the rise in alcohol and drug use. Australia strives to improve DUI laws, policies, and penalties to maintain road safety and reduce alcohol and drug-related accidents. Law enforcement enacted strict new drug and alcohol driving laws in the state. As a result, the penalties are even harsher for drivers with drugs and alcohol in their systems. When compared to other countries, the legal blood alcohol limit in Victoria and all other cities in Australia is now even lower. The legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for drivers should now be less than 0.05 per cent.
Annually, Victoria police conduct approximately 150,000 roadside drug tests. Roadside drug testing in Victoria is a saliva test that police can complete while the driver is still in the car. Saliva testing is effective because it identifies drivers who still have the active form of the drugs in their system, which poses the most significant risk on our roads. Meanwhile, when testing for alcohol, police use breathalysers to conduct alcohol testing. Moreover, the BACtrack breathalyser from Breathalysers Australia provides high-grade sensor technology for personal use to prevent DUI offences.
How a Roadside Drug Testing Victoria Conducted?
Even if it does not impair your driving, driving with drugs in your system can result in harsh penalties. You could be charged with failing a roadside drug testing in Victoria, driving while under the influence of drugs, or refusing to cooperate with the police. If you are also over the legal blood alcohol limit, you will face additional, more severe penalties. You can decline a roadside saliva drug test, but you will face the same penalties as if the test was positive. When conducting a roadside drug testing, what happens usually is:
- Police officers can stop a driver at any time and test for the presence of drugs in their system.
- The officer requests the driver to provide a saliva sample. Then, the driver must place a small absorbent pad on their tongue.
- The police will analyse the sample, which only takes a few moments.
- If it is negative, the driver may depart. But if it tested positive, the driver must provide another saliva sample at a police station for confirmation.
- A laboratory facility can do additional testing on the second sample of saliva.
- The driver’s drug driving charge depends on the laboratory test results.
Drugs Detected in a Roadside Drug Testing Victoria
Roadside drug testing in Victoria only tests for a limited number of drugs in the system, including:
The regulations added cocaine to the list of roadside drug testing in Victoria is testing for in response to an NSW Greens campaign. This campaign claimed roadside drug testing discriminated against members of communities with lower socioeconomic status. Additionally, a breathalyser detects ethanol. The police breathalyser uses fuel cell sensors to determine the BAC level accurately. Fuel cell sensors are sensitive to ethanol and do not react with other substances in the breath. Therefore, it is less likely to give false-positive results. Moreover, breathalysers can trace alcohol up to 24 hours from the last consumption. Therefore, individuals can use a personal breathalyser to ensure their BAC is zero or below the legal limit.
Drug and Alcohol Driving Offences
One penalty unit for having an offence in roadside drug testing in Victoria is equivalent to $181.74 from July 2021 until June 2022. These offences include:
- Driving with prescribed drugs in oral fluid (saliva)
Instead of being charged, it can result in an infringement notice. This offence attracts twelve penalty units.
- Driving with more drugs than prescribed
Police believe you are driving while under the influence of a drug in this offence, even when no illegal drugs are detected in a blood test. You must demonstrate that you took the medication exactly as directed by your healthcare provider to enter a not guilty plea to this offence. This offence also attracts twelve penalty units.
- Driving while impaired
If a blood or urine test reveals drugs in your system after receiving a drug impairment assessment, the police may prosecute you for driving while intoxicated. This offence gives twelve penalty units.
- Driving under the influence
Police must establish that you were under the influence of drugs and prevented you from operating your vehicle safely—three months in prison or 25 penalty units.
- Refusal offences
You may face charges for refusing a drug, blood, saliva, or urine test. This offence attracts 12 penalty units and a maximum two-year license suspension.
- Driving with drugs or alcohol present
Driving with any illegal drug amount or over the alcohol limit in your system has a maximum of 30 penalty units.
Penalties for Positive Roadside Drug Testing Victoria
If proven guilty from roadside drug testing in Victoria, a driver may face different penalties for their actions. Such corrections can be:
- Fines or Jail Time – the list above states how many penalty units an offence can attract. However, not paying on time will result in an arrest.
- License Cancellation – if you are found guilty of drug driving, law enforcement will cancel your license. This is for at least six months and a maximum of 2 years if you refuse a drug test.
- License Suspension – Receiving an infringement notice will result in licensing suspension. Lifting the suspension is the only way to return the license. Moreover, refusing a drug test and combined drug and alcohol driving will suspend your license.
- Community Corrections Order – your punishment is served out in your community, with conditions depending on what your offence was. Breaking this order will result in further penalties and jail time.
- Alcohol interlock program – this program is for individuals driving with a high-BAC range. Additionally, repeat offenders are required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.
Keeping Safe on the Road
Employers must consider introducing drug and alcohol testing as part of their workplace health and safety obligations. However, employees who drive to work have to keep roadside drug testing in Victoria in mind. Employers may face severe legal repercussions if a driver is discovered to have alcohol or drugs in their system. Also, the employer will be in major legal battles if their employees are involved in an accident while driving for business. Meanwhile, for employees whose job is to drive on our roadways, implementing a testing program for surveillance and deterrence is crucial to supporting workplace health and safety.
Police use saliva as the primary method for roadside drug testing and breath for alcohol testing. Therefore, choosing the perfect device will give the testing program uniformity and trust before sending your drivers out on the roads. Roadside alcohol and roadside drug testing in Victoria can combat casualties on the road. Using devices like BACtrack breathalysers from Breathalysers Australia to provide accurate alcohol readings can benefit everyone on the road. Furthermore, this can reduce the accidents caused by alcohol-impaired driving. Meanwhile, roadside drug testing can also combat drug driving and make the road safer.