Marshall Government’s nation leading drug driver legislation passes first testn passes first test

Tuesday 16 November, 2021

Australian-first legislation that will see drug drivers exiled from South Australian roads instantly after a positive roadside drug test has passed the House of Assembly.

The Road Traffic (Drug Driving and Careless or Dangerous Driving) Amendment Bill 2021 will now move to the Legislative Council for debate.

Road Safety Minister Vincent Tarzia said he hoped to see the Marshall Liberal Government’s crucial Bill progress quickly through the Legislative Council to ensure South Australia Police have every tool at their disposal to keep SA roads safe.

“We want to see this Bill pass Parliament as soon as possible to save lives by taking irresponsible drug drivers off our roads immediately,” Minister Tarzia said.

“This year alone 14 drug drivers have lost their lives after taking illicit substances and making the tragic choice to get behind the wheel or on a motorbike.

“We need to do everything we can to prevent lives lost and save families and first responders from the horrors of road trauma.”

The Bill will allow SAPOL to issue a 3-month instant loss of licence (ILOL) if a positive roadside drug screening test (DST) is returned.

An ILOL for drug driving does not currently exist. If a driver returns a positive roadside DST, an oral fluid sample is collected and provided to Forensic Science SA for spectrometry analysis.

If the spectrometry analysis returns a positive result, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles advises the driver of their 3-month licence disqualification.

This means there is a 28-day delay between the initial DST before a loss of licence is enforced, leaving drug drivers free to endanger lives.

SAPOL will also have discretion to decide if the ILOL should be issued at the roadside, or whether circumstances require further testing.

The Bill will also make changes under the following categories:

Excessive Speed

Excessive speed occurs if a driver speeds by 45km/h or more over the speed limit.

Currently, a driver can only be issued ILOL for excessive speed if they have been issued an expiation notice for the offence. SAPOL cannot issue an ILOL if the driver is charged for the offence and is required to attend court.

The Bill will enable SAPOL to issue a 6-month ILOL for the offence of excessive speed regardless of whether the offence is expiated, or the driver is being charged.

The Bill extends the application of aggravating factors to the offence of excessive speed and expands the number of factors to mirror those that apply to the offence of extreme speed.

The Bill will also introduce a penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment if the offence is committed in aggravating circumstances, or if it’s a subsequent offence.
Imprisonment is not currently available for an offence of excessive speed.

Reckless and Dangerous Driving

Currently, a roadside ILOL for reckless and dangerous driving is not able to be issued. The offence is not expiable, and offenders must be prosecuted. The maximum penalty is currently 2 years imprisonment.

The Bill enables SAPOL to issue a 12-month ILOL at the roadside for reckless and dangerous driving.

The Bill also amends the maximum penalties for reckless and dangerous driving to:

  • For a first offence — $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years; or
  • For a subsequent offence — imprisonment for 3 years.

Driving Whilst Disqualified

Currently, the maximum penalties that apply for offenders who drive whilst disqualified are:

  • For a first offence — imprisonment for 6 months; or
  • For a subsequent offence — imprisonment for 2 years.

The Bill will strengthen the penalties for these offenders, who have already put other road users at risk and ignored disqualification. The Bill increases the maximum penalties:

  • For a first offence — imprisonment for 12 months; or
  • a subsequent offence — imprisonment for 3 years.