South Australia Government Takes ZERO Tolerance Approach To Drug Driving

South Australia Government Takes ZERO Tolerance Approach To Drug Driving

South Australia Minister for Road Safety Peter Malinauskas

New Laws Target Drug Drivers

Victor P Taffa

South Australian Government is taking a zero tolerance approach to drug driving, with legislation being introduced to Parliament today proposing an immediate loss of licence for first time offenders.

“Drug drivers have become a growing safety risk on our roads, and these new laws send a clear message about the seriousness of these offences.” Minister for Road Safety Peter Malinauskas said.

“Drug drivers put themselves and innocent road users at risk, and this behaviour will simply not be tolerated.”

Around 22% of drivers or riders killed on South Australian roads test positive for cannabis, methylamphetamine, or a combination of these drugs.

Proposed new laws include an automatic three month license disqualification for first time offenders along with increased disqualification periods for repeat offenders.

Alarmingly, an increasing number of drivers are testing positive for drugs with a child in their car.

“Road traffic crashes are unexpected, sudden, and violent. Despite the reduction in fatal road crashes, crashes are still too common a cause of death and injury. The cost of the resultant road trauma is huge.” Commissioner for Victim’s Rights Michael O’Connell said.

“When a person drug drives or drug rides, the probability of a crash and subsequent death and injury is significant.”

Recognising the seriousness of this trend, the Government is moving to introduce a new offence of drug / high-level drink driving with a child under the age of 16 present. If found guilty, offenders face loss of licence until assessed to be non-dependent on drugs or alcohol.

Under the proposed new rules, people caught behind the wheel while suspended for drug driving will also face increased penalties and the possibility of imprisonment.

Proposed new penalties include:

  • A three-month licence disqualification for a first drug driving offence along with an increase to the court-imposed disqualification period.
  • An increased licence disqualification period for repeat drug driving offences:
  • Second offence not less than 12 months (currently not less than six months)
  • Third offence not less than two years (currently not less than one year)
  • Subsequent offence not less than three years (currently not less than two years)
  • Any driver detected drug or drink driving (0.08 BAC and above) with a child aged under 16 in the car will need to undergo a drug or alcohol dependency assessment before a licence can be reissued.
  • Offenders who have lost their licence for drug driving and are caught driving unlicensed, will face penalties of up to $5,000 or one year imprisonment and license disqualification of no less than three years.



Number of people caught drug driving in the morning (6 am-12 pm) has nearly doubled in the past 5 years.

Drug driving is a growing road safety risk, with 36% more South Australian road users testing positive for drugs in the past two financial years.

Positive alcohol detection rates are around 1% while the drug drive detection rate has increased to around 11%.