Traffic Law > Traffic Offences > Drive With Presence Of Illicit Drug


Drive with Presence of Illicit Substance- Section 111 of Road Transport Act 2013

Driving with prescribed illicit drug present in your blood or oral fluid.

Prescribed illicit drugs is any of the following:

  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC or Cannabis)
  • Cocaine
  • Methylamphetamine (Speed/Ice)
  • 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA or Ecstasy)

From 20 May 2019, NSW Police can now immediately suspend your driver’s licence if you commit the offence of drive with illicit substance present in your system. In the case of a first time committing a novice range offence, police have the power to issue you a penalty in the sum of $572 and impose a 3-month licence suspension.

Court election

If you have received a penalty notice and immediate suspension, before you pay the fine, you can elect to have your matter heard in court and appeal your driver licence suspension.

You will then be provided with a Court Attendance Notice and have the matter determined at court.

Maximum Penalties
Penalty First offence Second or Subsequent offence
9 months
12 months
Minimum disqualification
6 months
9 months
Maximum disqualification
9 months
12 months
Alcohol interlock order
24 months
48 months
Disqualification period of exempted from interlock
Automatic 12 months Min: 6 months
Automatic 5 years Min: 2 years
Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

Unlike driving under the influence (DUI) charge, the prosecution is not required to prove that you were affected by the drugs at the relevant time, but only to prove that you were had the illicit substance present in your system for the offence to be established.

Defences to this charge:

  • Duress that is, you were coerced or threatened into driving under the influence
  • Honest & Reasonable Mistake of Fact-that is, that you honestly and reasonably made a mistake regarding the drugs being in your system

Pleading Guilty

It is important that you speak to an experienced traffic lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options.

If you decide or have been advised to plead guilty to driving with illicit drugs present in system after receiving legal advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer, it is crucial that your case is sufficiently prepared to maximise your chances at obtaining a lenient sentence. 

Utilitarian Value or 25% discount on punishment

The discount for the utilitarian value of the plea of guilty will be determined largely by the timing of your plea entered. That means, the earlier you enter a plea of guilty, the greater discount you receive on your punishment and also the type of sentence you receive.

The utilitarian value of a delayed plea is less and consequently the discount is reduced.

Types of Penalties

Types of penalties the Judge can impose on you include any one of the following:

Our expert defence team at Criminal Lawyers Sydney may be able to negotiate the police ‘facts’ to reduce the seriousness of the offence.

Our team will guide you on obtaining materials which can be handed-up to the court during your sentencing – including a letter of apology, character references and any documents from counsellors or health care professionals you have consulted.

These materials, together with persuasive verbal submissions by your lawyer in the courtroom, can help to ensure you receive the most lenient penalty that is possible in the circumstances.

If you have been charged with AVO or contravene AVO, call Criminal Lawyers Sydney anytime on (02) 91528619 to arrange a free first conference with one of our experienced AVO lawyers who will review the allegations and advise you of your options and the best way forward.