There is a new category of traffic offence in NSW of combined drink and drug driving. The Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Drink and Drug Driving Offences) Act 2021 commenced on 28 June 2021.
It has long been an offence for a person to drive with drugs in their oral fluid, blood or urine. Likewise, the offence of driving with the prescribed concentration of alcohol in the breath or bloodstream. The new category of offences relates to driving with the presence of both a prescribed illicit drug in a person’s oral fluid, blood or urine and the prescribed concentration of alcohol in a person’s breath or blood.
Note that a person cannot, in relation to the same conduct, be convicted of both an existing offence of either drink or drug driving and also the new combined offence. However, a person can still be convicted of drink or drug driving where the combined offence is not proven.
The commentary in the By Lawyers NSW Traffic offences guide has been updated accordingly. New precedents have also been added to the Library of initial letters to the client as follows:
- Initial letter to client – Alcohol and drug driving middle range – First offence
- Initial letter to client – Alcohol and drug driving middle range – Second offence
- Initial letter to client – Alcohol and drug driving high range – First offence
- Initial letter to client – Alcohol and drug driving high range – Second offence
- Initial letter to client – Second offence of combined alcohol and drug offence
Like all of the initial letters to client in the By Lawyers criminal law guides, these new precedent letters set out the penalties and sentencing options for the new offences of combined drink driving and drug driving. These letters make it easy for practitioners to quickly and accurately confirm their advice on penalties to clients charged with traffic offences at the point of engagement.
There are also relevant amendments to the Retainer instructions – Traffic offences.