If you have been caught drug driving in Victoria, it is likely that you will be required to attend court. The court you will have to attend will be the Magistrates Court closest to where the offence occurred (or closest to where you live).
Most likely, you will have received a summons from the police and will have a pending court date. This date is called the ‘first mention’ and is the first listing of your matter where you can attend court and tell the Magistrate that you want to plead guilty, not guilty, or that you need more time (an ‘adjournment’) to get your case prepared.
Unlike drink driving, you don’t get charged with drug driving by being over a certain level. The way that the law is written means that any drugs in your system can breach the law. This includes illegal drugs such as amphetamines, MDMA and cannabis, as well as some prescription drugs.
If police suspect that a driver is under the influence of illicit drugs, they are permitted to request a sample of oral fluid to confirm their suspicion. If a proper request is made to provide a saliva sample, it is an offence to refuse.
There aren’t many defences to driving with drugs in your system, except perhaps that you were not in fact impaired by a drug, or that you took a prescription drug in the terms prescribed by your doctor.
Police can also immediately suspend your licence at any time after the filing of the charge-sheet at court which means that you are suspended from driving until the charge has been determined at court (known as a ‘section 51’ notice). This means that you cannot drive. There are no exceptions and no special licences that you can get to drive during this time. They don’t exist. If you drive during this period of suspension and are caught, you can be charged with another criminal offence “driving whilst suspended”. These charges can carry maximum penalties of large fines, further licence suspension and even jail.
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