3 September 2020

Tania Maxwell MP has welcomed news that police will issue on the spot fines and immediate driving bans for people caught driving with drugs in their system.

Victoria Police have announced on-the-spot fines, starting at $495 for first-time offenders, and immediate driving bans that will rise from 4-12 hours to 12-24 hours depending on the type of drug detected.

The Transport Accident Commission reported that in the last five years approximately 41% of all drivers and motorcyclists killed who were tested had drugs in their system and 25% of Victorians who use recreational drugs admit to driving under the influence.

Ms Maxwell said the measures would not only help get drug drivers off our roads, but would help hold offenders accountable.

In June 2019, Victoria’s then Assistant Commissioner for Road Safety, Stephen Leane, said that “getting drug drivers off the road will be one of the greatest challenges over the next 10 years” (Herald Sun, 8 July 2019).

In her submission to the Victorian Parliament’s current Road Toll Inquiry, Ms Maxwell has called for a range of responses including the capability for all police to conduct drug testing of drivers, a review of sentencing for drug driving offences and expanded laws for automatic suspension of licences to include alleged gross negligence driving offences.

Ms Maxwell said there should be greater scope for increasing the targets for drug testing, which based on 2019 figures represents only five per cent of the equivalent number for alcohol impairment.  In practice, not all police are trained to conduct testing and, as a result, if a general duties officer suspects drug use, they must then relay the case to Highway Patrol and wait for them to physically see that vehicle being driven.

Quotes attributable to Tania Maxwell MP:

“People who take illicit drugs need to understand that when they get behind the wheel, they put the lives of others at significant risk.”

“I would hope that an on the spot fine and immediate ban will make first-time offenders think twice before driving a vehicle under the influence.”

“There is great scope for increasing the capacity and targets for police to conduct drug testing, which would further assist in the efforts to remove drug drivers from our roads.”