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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Minimum periods of disqualification for drug-driving offences

Edit: The amending legislation has now received assent and been proclaimed in Victoria Government Gazette G42, dated 21 October 2010. Most of the Act came in on 1 November 2010.



Sections 14 and 21 (which are discussed below) come into effect on 12 December 2010.








Most people would probably be surprised to learn that there's no minimum period off the road for people caught committing specific drug-driving offences under the Road Safety Act 1986. (Section 49(1)(a) has been punishable by a mandatory minimum disqualification of two years for a long time).



The other drug offences don't have mandatory minimums at the moment, but will once the Road Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2010 commences.
The Explanatory Memorandum can be found here. The Second Reading is here, and the Statement of Compatibility is here.



The EM explains that clause 14,



amends section 50(1E) of the Road Safety Act 1986 by creating minimum periods for licence disqualification for certain drug-driving offences. Currently a court may, on convicting or finding a person guilty of a drug-driving offence under section 49(1)(bb), (h) or (i), cancel a driver licence or permit and disqualify the driver from obtaining one for such period as the court thinks fit, being not more than 6 months for a first offence and not more than 12 months for a subsequent offence. Under section 50(1E) as amended by clause 15 a court must, on convicting or finding a person guilty of a drug-driving offence under section 49(1)(bb), (h) or (i), cancel a driver licence or permit and disqualify the driver from obtaining one for a period not less than 3 months for a first offence and not less than 6 months for a subsequent offence. There will be no maximum periods of disqualification.




and at clause 15,



amends section 51(1A) of the Road Safety Act 1986 by including a reference to the offence under section 49(1)(eb). The purpose of this amendment is to make persons who commit a first offence under section 49(1)(eb) of refusing to provide a sample of oral fluid in a roadside drug-driving test in accordance with section 55D or 55E, or refusing to comply with any other requirement made under one of those sections, liable to an immediate licence suspension. Under section 51(1A) a person may be given a notice by a police member informing the accused that his or her licence or permit is immediately suspended until the charge has been determined. The accused will also be required to immediately surrender his or her licence or permit document to the police member who gave the notice.




The Bill passed the Council on 7/10/10 but hasn't received Assent yet. If not proclaimed earlier it comes into operation on 1 August 2011.

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