New offence for drivers caught driving with both alcohol and drugs in their system

Jul 30, 2021

Increased penalties for stand alone drink and drug driving offences

The Government’s tough new penalties for impaired driving came into effect on 1 July 2021.

From July 1, for the first time, drivers caught with both alcohol and drugs in their system will be charged with the new offence of driving with a blood alcohol content of or above a particular level and with a prescribed illicit drug in oral fluid or blood.

Prescribed illicit drugs are cannabis, MDMA (ecstasy), and methamphetamine.

The penalty for this new ‘poly’ offence of driving while affected by a combination of alcohol and drugs is significant.

A driver who records a blood alcohol reading in excess of 0.05 and tests positive to drugs will have their licence disqualified for a minimum of three months and face a maximum fine of $1,900 for a first offence.

Police will issue drivers who test positive for prescribed illicit drugs (or who refuse a roadside drug test) with a prohibition notice banning them from driving for 24 hours.

Repeat offenders could face a mandatory licence disqualification for life and fine of up to $11,250 for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Penalties for an existing, stand-alone drink and drug driving offences are also increased by a minimum of 1.5 times the current penalty.

The penalty for refusing to comply with a direction from police to provide a breath or saliva sample for testing will more than double.

Frichot Lawyers can assist you if you are charged with these offences.

Drug driving prohibition notices

WA Police Force will issue drivers who test positive for specified drugs (Cannabis, Ecstasy or Meth) or refuse a roadside drug test with a prohibition notice which bans them from driving for 24 hours.

Breaching the prohibition notice is an offence. Police may issue an infringement notice with a penalty of $600.

Drug driving penalties

Police have the power to stop drivers suspected of driving while impaired by any drug.

Those found with specified drugs (Cannabis, Ecstasy or Meth) in their oral fluid can be charged with the offence of Driving with Specified Drugs in Oral Fluid.

Table 1: Drug driving penalties

The more serious offence of Drug Impaired Driving under the Influence of Drugs applies to drivers found to be so impaired by either prescription or illicit drugs that they are not capable of proper control of a vehicle.

This applies where police have evidence of suspicious or erratic driving behaviour and where that suspicion is confirmed following a driver assessment and/or blood tests.

Table 2: Driving under the influence of drugs penalties

Drink driving penalties

If you are caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) equal to or above 0.05 and less than 0.08, you may either be infringed or required to appear in court. The following table shows the penalties that will apply for a first offence of driving with a BAC of ≥ 0.05 but < 0.08.

Table 3: Drink driving penalties

The following table shows the court penalties for drink driving offences. The penalties in these tables represent drivers who held a full licence at the time of the offence.

Table 4: Court penalties for drink driving offences

The following table shows the court penalties from 1 July for drink driving with ≥ 0.15 BAC.

Table 5: New court penalties for drink driving ≥ 0.15 BAC

*Alternative to max fine for second offence is 9 months imprisonment
**Alternative to fine for third and subsequent offences is 18 months imprisonment

Drink driving penalties for zero BAC

A zero BAC applies to the following groups of drivers:

  • Novice Drivers
  • Holders of Extraordinary licences
  • Recently Disqualified Drivers
  • Drivers of:
    • vehicles exceeding 22.5 tonne GCM
    • vehicles carrying dangerous goods (when such goods are being carried)
    • buses (while carrying passengers where the vehicle is equipped to carry more than 12 adults including the driver)
    • small charter vehicles (when carrying passengers for hire or reward)




This article was written by Ashley Wilson,

Legal Practice Director

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