How to Get Off a Drug Driving Charge?

police officer vehicle stop

Driving under the influence of illicit drugs is a serious offence in New South Wales (NSW) and can have significant consequences. If you are charged with drug driving in NSW, you may be wondering how to get off the charge.

What Is Drug Driving?

Drug driving in NSW refers to operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. The drugs in question can include illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines and opioids.


In NSW, police officers have the authority to conduct roadside drug tests on drivers at any time. If you are pulled over and tested positive for drugs, you may be charged with drug driving which could result in your licence disqualification.


In addition, drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol can also be subjected to drug testing by the police. If a driver is found to have exceeded the legal alcohol limit and also tests positive for drugs, they can be charged with a drug and alcohol combined offence. The penalties for this offence are significantly more severe than those for individual drug or alcohol offences.

What if You Refuse to Provide Roadside Drug Test Sample?

Refusing to provide a roadside drug test sample in New South Wales (NSW) can result in serious consequences. Under the NSW Road Transport Act 2013, drivers are required to submit to roadside drug testing when requested by police. Failure to comply with a request to undergo a drug test is an offence in itself and can lead to the same penalties as a drug driving conviction.


If a driver refuses to provide a roadside drug test sample or a saliva test, they may be arrested and taken to a police station or a hospital to undergo a more invasive drug test, such as a blood or urine test. If the driver still refuses to undergo the test, they may be charged with the offence of “refusing or failing to submit to a test,” which can carry penalties that are similar to those for drug driving.


If a driver is found guilty of refusing to submit to a drug test, the penalties can include fines, imprisonment, and disqualification from driving. In addition, a conviction for refusing a drug test can result in a criminal record, which can have long-lasting consequences, such as difficulties obtaining employment or obtaining a visa to travel overseas.


If a driver has been charged with refusing to submit to a drug test, they should seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer who can provide guidance on the available defences and help mitigate the penalties.

Penalty For Drug Driving

There are numerous penalties available for drug driving offences. The penalty for drug driving in NSW varies depending on the severity of the offence. If it is your first offence, you may receive a fine of up to $1,100 and a three-month license suspension. For a second or subsequent offence, the penalties increase significantly, and you may face fines of up to $3,300 and license disqualification for up to three years.


In addition to the legal consequences, drug driving and drugs in your system can also have a significant impact on your personal and professional life. A drug driving conviction can make it difficult to find employment, secure housing, and obtain credit.

Defences For Drug Driving

If you have been charged with drug driving first offence or subsequent offence in NSW, there may be defences available to help you get the drug driving charge thrown out. Some common defences include:


  • Lack of knowledge: If you were not aware that you were under the influence of drugs, you may be able to argue that you did not intentionally break the law.
  • Faulty testing equipment: In some cases, the drug testing equipment used by police officers may be faulty or incorrectly calibrated. If you can prove that the equipment was faulty, you may be able to have the charges dismissed.
  • Medical reasons: If you were taking prescription drugs for a legitimate medical condition, you may be able to argue that you were not aware of the impact the drugs would have on your ability to drive.
  • Necessity: In rare cases, it may be possible to argue that you had no other choice but to drive while under the influence of drugs, such as if you were transporting someone to the hospital in an emergency situation.

Beat a Drug Driving Charge

There are several ways to challenge a drug driving charge, including but not limited to:


Insufficiency of evidence


If the prosecution fails to prove all elements of the offence, such as establishing that the accused was driving or in control of the vehicle, providing reliable drug test readings, or following proper police procedures, the case may be dismissed.


Legal defence of honest and reasonable mistake


This defence may be successfully used if the accused can prove that they were not aware of being under the influence of drugs while driving.


Inadmissibility of evidence


If the police conducted the drug test on the accused while they were on their property, such as their driveway, or if the test was conducted 2 hours or more after they drove a vehicle, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court.




If the accused can prove that they were forced to commit the offence, this may be a valid defence.




If the accused can prove that their actions were necessary, such as in the case of escaping imminent danger, this may also be a valid defence.

It is important to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer who can identify any defences to drug driving and negotiate with the police to have the case withdrawn.

Can I Appeal a Drug Driving Conviction by the Court?

If you are dissatisfied with the decision made by the magistrate, you have the option to appeal to the District Court. However, it is advisable to seek legal advice before taking this step. The time limit for lodging an appeal is 28 days from the date of the magistrate’s decision, and a fee will be required to do so.


If you are receiving Centrelink benefits or are facing financial difficulties, you may be able to apply to have the fee waived.

If you Wish to Plead Guilty to Drug Driving

If you do not wish to contest the charges against you, it may be worthwhile to consider entering an early guilty plea. This can demonstrate to the court that you take responsibility for your actions and may result in a reduced sentence compared to if you plead not guilty.


However, before making any decisions, it is crucial to seek advice from a specialised lawyer who possesses in-depth knowledge of drug and traffic laws. They can advise you on whether there are any viable defences to the charges that could result in an acquittal.


If you are facing a drug driving charge and it is your first significant traffic offence within five years, the maximum penalty is a fine of $2,200 and a license suspension of six months. However, the court may reduce the license suspension to a minimum of three months.


In the event that it is your second or subsequent drug driving offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $3,300 and a license suspension of 12 months, which the court can reduce to six months.


It’s crucial to note that regardless of whether it’s your first or second/subsequent major traffic offence in the last five years, the court has the discretion to grant a ‘section 10 dismissal or conditional release order.’ This means that you will not have a criminal record, no license suspension, and no fine, as long as you haven’t received a non-conviction order for a significant traffic offence within the previous five years.


The range of penalties available to the court are:


  • Section 10 Dismissal
  • Conditional Release Order (CRO)
  • Fine
  • Community Correction Order (CCO)
  • Intensive Correction Order (ICO)
  • Full Time Custodial Sentence.

If you have been charged with driving with drugs present in your system, you should contact Drug Offence Lawyers in Sydney.

Going To Court?

Send An Online Enquiry

Contact Mohammad Khan

    What Our Clients Say About Us

    Russell Lew
    Read More
    Super knowledgeable amazing service extremely supportive thank you so much.
    Omar M
    Read More
    A BIG thank you to Lyons Law Group with helping me achieve the best outcome for my case. From day one they were very professional, straight to the point and very easy to communicate with, keeping me updated and informed with everything I needed to know. Honestly, exceptional service and support. Thank you once again to Mohammad & Team.
    Edward Hinds
    Read More
    Lyons Law Group is amazing. They are very professional, sympathetic, and helpful. I was kept informed during every step. The level of support was second to none. Mohammad went above and beyond and updated me regularly. Hijram too was amazing. Her calls and court representation made me feel at ease. This was a great experience. I cannot recommend Lyons Law Group enough. My gratitude extends to all involved in the handling of my case.
    Layalle Itaoui
    Read More
    Thank you Lyons Law Group on providing me an exceptional service delivered with care, compassion and a high level of professionalism. The outcome was more than what I had expected. A true reflection of your legal expertise and experience. Thank you Mohammad and team.
    Tristan Bartolome
    Read More
    10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND!!! Last year I was caught up in some trouble and in need of desperate help my friend recommended William from Lyons Law Group. Although there was less than 3 weeks to prepare, William was happy to help me out despite there being such limited time to work with. Despite the limited time William had to work with, he made me feel confident during the whole time and also taught me a lot in the process. In the end he got me an outcome that was better than I thought I would have gotten! I will definitely go back to William if I ever need legal help again!
    Mala Singh
    Read More
    Very professional, reasonable pricing and very supportive. The most stressful time of my life Mohammed was honest and driven to get the best possible outcome for me. Thank you Lyons team
    Daniel Blackwell
    Read More
    Helped me get the best possible outcome for my personal scenario. Their patience and professionalism are outstanding, I was given pure human understanding. Thank you
    Alan Lu
    Read More
    Lyons Law was professional and provided exceptional service to get the best result. I would recommend engaging them. Particular mention and thanks to the solicitor William Lam.
    Read More
    Great teamwork, great people. Highly recommended. Thank you Lyons Law Group


    • Lyons Law Group | Criminal Defence Lawyers

      Lyons Law Group is a boutique firm of expert criminal solicitors and barristers. Lyons Law Group is dedicated to strong advocacy when representing its clients with an approach that is tailored to every client’s specific needs.