Drug Driving LAWYERS

Caught driving with illicit drugs in your system? It's a situation nobody wants to be in, but it happens. When it does, you’ll need the best defence on your side.

criminal lawyers for drug driving

Getting charged with the offence of Drug Driving can have a significant impact on one's personal and professional life, affecting your current or future employment, hindering your ability to care for dependents, making it difficult to secure car insurance and even having implications on family law proceedings.

This is why it is vital to have the correct defence team to guide you through this difficult time, our dedicated team of experienced legal professionals have countlessly secured section 10 non-convictions and conditional release orders for our clients, enabling them to continue being on the road and criminal record free.

Contact us and seek legal advice from our experienced drug driving lawyers at Faraj Defence Lawyers and allow us to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

Caught drug driving? Faraj Defence Lawyers are here to protect your rights.

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What is drug driving in new south wales

Section 111 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), prohibits the act of drug driving making it a punishable offence in NSW. This refers to when an individual is found with an illicit substance present in their oral fluid, blood and/or urine whilst driving a motor vehicle. It is irrelevant whether you felt “high”, as long as police can find a hint of drugs in your system, you can be charged with drug driving. All that's needed for a conviction is that you were driving or even attempting to put the vehicle in motion and found with any ‘prescribed illicit drug’ in your system including the following:

  • Cannabis or THC

  • Methylamphetamine (speed)

  • Ecstasy

  • Cocaine

What the prosecution needs to prove

Traffic offences fall under what's known as strict liability. This essentially means that the prosecution does not have to show you had the intention to commit the offence, as long as you were found with an illicit substance in your oral fluid, blood or urine during testing, then the prosecution's job is half-done.

It is not the same as ‘driving under the influence’, as the prosecution does not need to prove that you were affected by the substance at the time you were driving. Keep in mind, prosecution must show the following to a standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, meaning they must be almost certain of the facts they present.

If a prescribed illicit substance is found present in your system, prosecution must show:

  • At the time you were driving on the road in a motor vehicle, or

  • At the time occupying the driver's seat of a motor vehicle and attempting to put the vehicle in motion, or

  • At the time holding an applicable driver’s licence, occupying the seat next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle

What are my options in court

Getting charged with drug driving can be an overwhelming experience, which is why it is so important to know your options. With the help of legal professionals by your side, you can be rest assured that your interests are being prioritised. Remember to always stay silent in the presence of police and call your lawyer.

Pleading not guilty

If you believe you have been unjustly charged for the offence of drug driving, challenging the charge is your right, the best thing to do is call your lawyer and let them fight your case. Pleading not guilty can be stressful, not knowing the verdict that awaits you may sound daunting, however, having an experienced drug driving lawyer can make the road ahead much smoother.

The first things your lawyer will do is:

  • Take instructions from you as to what was in your system and whether it was an ‘illicit substance’

  • Make enquiries as to whether the police obtained evidence of the illicit substance in your system legally (there are protocols about how police can test you legally)

  • Prepare your defence and argue in court on your behalf, ultimately asking the court to find you not guilty

If the court determines that you are not guilty, the drug driving charge will be dropped and in certain situations, you might be eligible to reclaim your legal costs from prosecution.  

Pleading guilty

If you plan to plead guilty then you are ultimately admitting to an offence, this means that you will skip trial and go straight to sentencing. It is crucial to speak to a specialised traffic lawyer before making such a decision.

Just because you admit to an offence does not mean that your case is over, your lawyer can still have a significant impact on the outcome of the case and can leave you walking out of the courtroom, disqualification and criminal record free.

If you choose to plead guilty, it is important to talk to your lawyer and act quickly. If you admit to the offence before trial begins you can get what’s called an early guilty plea discount, the court must provide a discount to your sentence by 25%. The earlier the plea is submitted the better, as sometimes a later plea results in a lower discount, which is why it is vital in getting professional legal advice early.

The maximum penalty for this offence as a first-time offender is a fine of $2,200.00, if it’s a subsequent offence then the penalty increases to $3,300.00.

The maximum penalty also comes with a disqualification period, as follows:

  • First-time offence → 3 months minimum with a maximum of 6 months

  • Subsequent offence → 6 months minimum with a maximum of 12 months

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What are the penalties for drug driving in NSW?

The maximum penalties for this offence is a fine of $3,300.00 and/or imprisonment of 6 months. If it is a subsequent offence in the last 5 years, the fine is increased to $5,500.00and/imprisonment of 1 year.

Apart from the penalties above, the court can also issue one of the following penalties basedon your circumstances:

Section 10: non-convition

A section 10 non-conviction is a sentence which can be imposed by courts that allows you to walk free and prevent having a criminal record entirely.

Having a strong defence team can increase your chances of receiving a section 10 dismissal, so be sure to consult with one of our legal experts and walk out the courtroom without a criminal record.

Conditional release order without conviction

A conditional release order (CRO) without conviction is another sentencing option available to courts, these are specifically designed to divert defendants away from offence without marking them with a criminal conviction.

Keep in mind the release is ‘conditional’ meaning the courts will place guidelines and rules you must follow in relation to your release. Failure to adhere to these conditions can lead to the order being revoked and potential further legal consequences.


Police or magistrate can impose a fine as another penalty option. It is important to note that even though fines offer a way for offenders to make amends financially, they can still accompany other forms of punishment, for instance licence suspension. If the court sentences you a fine, you'll be given a 28 day window to settle the amount.

Conditional release order with conviction

Similar to conditional release order without conviction, a CRO involving a conviction means that while the court acknowledges the offence, a formal conviction is recorded. While a CRO with conviction offers a more lenient alternative to harsher penalties, it's essential to understand the long-term effects of having a conviction on your record. This can impact future job prospects, international travel and other areas where a background check may be imposed.

Intensive corrections order

An Intensive Corrections Order (ICO) in NSW is a community-based sentence, serving as an alternative to prison for offenders deemed low-risk or suitable for rehabilitation. Rarely granted for drug driving, it imposes conditions like regular reporting, rehabilitation sessions, curfews, and drug testing.

Full imprisonment time

Full-time imprisonment, a rare and last-resort sentence for drug driving charges, involves detention for a period set by a Judge or Magistrate, typically reserved for serious or repeat offenses. Courts explore all options and consider various factors before imposing this severe penalty. Having an experienced lawyer is crucial when facing drug driving charges to secure leniency or alternatives to imprisonment.

Full imprisonment time

Full-time imprisonment, a rare and last-resort sentence for drug driving charges, involves detention for a period set by a Judge or Magistrate, typically reserved for serious or repeat offenses. Courts explore all options and consider various factors before imposing this severe penalty. Having an experienced lawyer is crucial when facing drug driving charges to secure leniency or alternatives to imprisonment.

To learn more about how you can beat a Drug Driving Charge, visit our article which provides a few strategies you can deploy to beat a drug driving charge.

What are my defences for drug driving?

There are a few defences available if you believe the charges against you are not valid, these include:

Faulty drug test results

A common defence refers to the accuracy of the drug test, if there is reason to believe that the equipment used was faulty or if the test was administered incorrectly, it could render the results invalid.

Necessity or duress

This defence can be invoked if you were driving under the influence of drugs due to a genuine and immediate threat to your safety or that of another person and had no reasonable alternative.

Consumption for medicinal purposes

If morphine is detected in your blood or urine due to consumption for legitimate medical reasons, you can be acquitted of the charges.

Not in control of vehicle

If you were not actually driving or in control of the vehicle at the time of offence, this can serve as a defence. This can be applicable in situations where you were parked and not intending to drive.

Honest and reasonable mistake

If you had a legitimate reason to believe you were not under the influence of drugs when driving, for instance, if you took medication that unknowingly contained a prohibited substance then it might be possible to argue that you made an honest and reasonable mistake.

These are the most common defences when it comes to drug driving charges, if these do not apply to you it is important to have your lawyer evaluate the circumstances surrounding your case and offer guidance on which defence is most likely to succeed or another defence present within your case.

Related article: Charged with Drug Driving? Here's how to beat it

How can faraj defence lawyers help?

At Faraj Defence Lawyers we're not just seasoned in the field of drug driving - we excel in it. We pride ourselves on our in-depth understanding and expertise in handling drug driving cases across NSW.

With years of experience, our team is highly skilled at meticulously reviewing and preparing each case, ensuring that our clients are not only well-informed but also positioned in the best possible way before the court.

Recognising the complexities of drug driving charges, we're committed to helping you navigate the legal landscape. Ensuring you have the best defence is paramount, don't leave your future to chance! Your defence is our priority.

If you or anyone you know is charged with a drug driving offence, contact us today for your free initial consultation by calling (02) 8896 6034 or emailing us at af@farajdefencelawyers.com.au.

Ahmad Faraj Drug Driving Lawyer, serving clients across Sydney & Parramatta.
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