Sydney Criminal and Family Lawyers
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Drug Driving

Drugs & DrivingWhat should you do at court?You should not drive to court in case you lose your licence. Bring your licence with you unless the police have already taken it, as the court may require you to surrender it. When you get to court, find the court officer and tell them if you are unrepresented and whether you are pleading guilty. Check the police fact sheet and certificate The police will have a fact sheet which says why you were arrested. It may also refer to what the police say you told them about the type and quantity of  drug you used. Make sure you read the fact sheet.   What could happen to you?   You will lose your licence for some time unless the court decides not to record a conviction against you ? this is set out in the table below. You may also have to pay a fine. Other penalties can also be imposed, including a gaol sentence. If you are likely to go to gaol and you satisfy the Legal Aid means test, you may be able to get legal aid. See the duty solicitor at court.If you disagree with what the police say happened, you may tell the Magistrate when it is your turn to speak.   The police prosecutor should also show you a copy of your previous criminal record if you have one and a copy of your driving history. Read these documents to make sure they really are yours. The police prosecutor will hand the Magistrate acopy of your criminal record and traffic history. You should dispute any incorrect information on yourcriminal record or traffic history.   Driving under the Influence of Drugs (DUI) Under section 17 Road Transport (Safety and Management)Act 1999  a breath test is not permitted to be carried out by the Police in the following circumstances:   (a) if a person has been admitted to hospital for medical treatment  unless the doctor in immediate charge of the person's treatment has been notified of the intention of the police to make the requisition unless the medical practitioner objects on the gorunds that it would prejudice the treatment of the person;   (b) by reason of injuries sustained it appears to the police officer that it would be dangerous to the person's medical condition to undergo a blood test;   (c) at any time after the expiration of  two (2) hours from the occurrence of the event the police were entitled to under section 13(1) Road Transport (Safety and Management) Act 1999;   (d) at the person's home. Drug Driving Presence of Drugs in Oral Fluid (Drive with Iliicit Substance)  Where a person is convicted of Driving with Illicit Substance under section 11B (1) OR (3) of the Road Transport (Safety & Management) Act 1999 Under s188 (2) of the Road Transport (General Act 2005 If no previous major offence during the last 5 years: Maximum Fine $2,200 Automatic disqualification: 6 months Minimum disqualification 3 months; Maximum period of imprisonment 9 months   Under section 188(3) Road Transport (General) Act 2005 If previous conviction for a major traffic offence within the last 5 years : Maximum fine $3,300 Automatic disqualification an automatic disqualification of 12 months; Minimum disqualification 6 months   Refuse to provide oral fluid sample   First Offence: Maximum Fine  $3,300; Automatic disqualification 3 yrs; Minimum disqualification 6 mths   2nd Offence: Maximum fine  $5,500 5 yrs 12 mths 18 mths Wilfully alter drug in oral fluid First Offence: Maximum Fine  $3,300 3 yrs; Minimum disqualification6 months    2nd Offence:Maximum Fine  $5,500 5 yrs; Minimum disqualification 12 months Refuse to provide urine sample or blood sample  or wilfully alter amount of drug after fatal motor vehicle collision   First Offence: Maximum Fine$3,300 Automatic disqualification 3 yrs; Minimum disqualification 6 months;  Maximum period of imprisonment 18 mths   2nd Offence: Maximum fine $5,500 Automatic disqualification 5 yrs;  Minimum disqualification 12 months; Maximum period of imprisonment 2 yrs Hinder doctor or registered nurse in taking prescribed sample of blood or urineof any other person   First Offence: Maximum Fine  $2,200    2nd Offence: Maximum Fine  $2,200  Refuse to provide blood or urine sample or wilfully alter amount of drug following sobriety test   First Offence:  Maximum Fine  $3,300 Automatic disqualification 3 yrs; Minimum disqualification6 months;  Maximum period of imprisonment 18 mths   2nd Offence:Maximum Fine  $5,500 Automatic disqualification 5yrs; Minimum disqualification; 12 months; Maximum period of imprisonment 2 yrsIf this is the first time you have been charged with DUI Drug offence, it is unlikely you will get a gaol sentence. However, if: a) it is a DUI Drug offence under s 12 Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (NSW), that is using or attempting to use a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug and if it involves aggravating features such as an accident and/or dangerous driving, a gaol penalty is more likely and you may therefore be eligible for legal aid; or b) you have previously been charged with a drink driving offence or DUI Drug offence, you face the risk of a gaol penalty and may be eligible for legal aid. In these situations, you should apply for legal aid before your first court appearance or visit a Legal Aid NSW office. Speak to the duty solicitor at court. How should you prepare for court?   Get references and prepare a letter to the Magistrate or written notes of what you will say. It may be helpful to get written references from people who can talk about your good character. These references should be addressed to the Magistrate and refer to the current charges. Ask for the Legal Aid information card about Character References. The court will consider a number of factors in deciding the appropriate penalty and disqualification. These include: ? Whether you believed you were under the influence of a drug when you drove;? Any particular reason as to why you chose to drive;? Whether you were detected by being stopped by Police for another reason or Random Drug Test or as a result of erratic or dangerous driving;? The length of the journey/intended journey;? The number of people put at risk by the driving (passengers, members of the public etc)? Any collision that occurred;? Any significant effect that licence disqualification may have on you, your employment or other people who rely on you (children, sick relative, etc);? The absence of viable alternative transport;? How long you have held a licence and what your overall traffic record is like;? Whether you are a regular drug user and hence whether some kind of treatment or counselling is appropriate? The risk of you re-offending Either prepare a short letter in your own words to give to the Magistrate, or prepare written notes.Include any explanation that relates to the factors set out above. In particular, address:? Any special reason why you were driving;? Some explanation as to why you were driving with drugs in your system? An explanation of your understanding of the risks of driving after consuming drugs, and if you can, an assurance that this behaviour will not be repeated ? Any particular need you have for a licence eg. In your work or for personal reasons;? If you need a driver?s licence for work make sure you have a letter from your employer to say what will happen to your job if you are disqualified from driving for a long time;? If you have other reasons for needing a driver?s licence (eg. A disabled child, health problems) make sure you have evidence (ie.  Doctor's certificate or report) to support this;? What your weekly income is and expenses you have to pay (which can assist the court in calculating any fine to be imposed).   It is important to be legally represented if charged with one or more of the above-mentioned offences in order to obtain the best possible outcome for you in the circumstances of your case taking into consideration the objective and subjective circumstances of your case. At SCFL we have the knowledge, skill and experience to achieve this for you.
Added by Sydney Criminal and Family Lawyers on Wednesday 12 September 2012
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