Licence suspension and fines for drug driving offences

Tougher penalties to reduce drug driving

From 20 May 2019, tougher penalties, including consistent fines coupled with automatic licence suspension, will be an option for first time offenders who drive with the presence of an illicit drug in their system.

The change is part of a number of reforms in the Road Safety Plan 2021 to reduce alcohol and drug related trauma on NSW roads.

What has changed?

From 20 May 2019, drivers who have a positive roadside drug test confirmed by a laboratory can be fined (issued a penalty notice) for driving with the presence of an illicit drug in their system. Offenders will subsequently have their licence automatically suspended for three months. This is only an option if it is a first offence.

Prior to 20 May 2019, all drivers who had their roadside drug test confirmed as positive by the laboratory were charged with a drug presence offence and required to attend court to have their penalty determined.

The reform delivers simpler, consistent and more certain penalties for drug driving in NSW.  More information about the reform is included in the FAQs.

What drivers need to know:

  • Drug presence offences are typically detected through the roadside Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) program and confirmed in a laboratory.
  • There is no significant change to the testing process or steps that occur if a driver is stopped at the roadside for a mobile drug test.
  • Drivers who test positive to a roadside drug test will continue to be prohibited from driving for 24 hours. If prohibited from driving, drivers need to make alternative arrangements to get home from the roadside or police station.
  • If a positive roadside test is confirmed in the laboratory and it is a driver’s first offence, they may receive a fine of $572 (Level 7 penalty notice – value from 1 July 2019). If the offence is dealt with through a penalty notice, a three month licence suspension will be applied for the offence.
  • If you have received a penalty notice and suspension for a drug presence offence, you can elect to have the matter determined in court and appeal your suspension.
  • If you have received a penalty notice or a suspension for a drug driving offence, you may wish to seek legal advice before making the decision to go to court. Higher penalties and longer periods of licence disqualification can be applied by the court and a conviction may be recorded.
  • Significant penalties apply for driving while your licence is suspended.

More information about the reform is included in the FAQs.

full list of drug-driving offences and penalties is available.

For information on fines and how they are issued visit Revenue NSW.

For more information about the drink and drug driving reforms, visit Centre for Road Safety.

Share this page: