DRUG DRIVING: Tough penalises apply  for drivers found to be using drugs while behind the wheel.
DRUG DRIVING: Tough penalises apply for drivers found to be using drugs while behind the wheel. Supplied

Tough new penalties for rule breaking drivers

LOSING your licence for three months could cost you your job, but driving under the influence could cost your life or that of another road user.

From Monday, May 20, new legislation comes into effect which means any driver who tests positive to a mobile drug test will have their license suspended immediately for three months.

The driver will also receive a $561 fine.

Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance said drink drivers, including those busted at low range or for the first time, would also lose their licence on-the-spot.

Alcohol related crashes claimed the lives of at least 68 people on NSW roads last year, accounting for nearly one in five road deaths, including 55 lives lost on country roads.

Fatalities from crashes involving a drug driver accounted for similar numbers of deaths.

Assistant Police Commissioner Michael Corboy said the reforms will protect all road users by ensuring swift and certain penalties.

"Alcohol is one of the major factors in crashes that kill or injure people on NSW roads," he said, earlier this month.

"The 0.05 blood alcohol limit has been in place for almost 38 years, there are no more excuses."

According to NSW Roads and Maritime Services, mobile drug tests detect drivers who have recently used one or more of four common illegal drugs: ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine (including speed and ice).

Drivers facing a second or subsequent offence will have to front court and may receive a licence disqualification and fine.

Mobile drug tests can be conducted at roadside operations along with RBTs, or by NSW Police in vehicles patrolling roads across the state.

All drivers involved in fatal crashes undergo blood and urine testing for drugs and alcohol.

As part of the Road Safety Plan 2021, these changes are to simplify and improve the certainty of penalties for first-time offences for driving with the presence of an illegal drug, which are typically detected through mobile drug tests.

The NSW Road Toll for the calendar year to date is 137 fatalities compared to 127 for 2018.

More information about current penalties for drug-driving offences can be found on the Roads and Maritime Services website.