Laws concerning the detection and sanctioning of drug driving are one of the newest and most contested additions to the drug policy landscape. A thorough understanding of the drug driving laws is important to inform policy debates. This bulletin outlines the drug driving laws as of January 2020 in Australia – the first country to introduce Roadside Drug Testing laws – focusing on three types of drug driving laws: 

  1. Roadside Drug Testing (RDT) laws
  2. Impairment laws (Driving Under the Influence (DUI)/ Driving While Impaired (DWI))
  3. Combination (drug and alcohol driving) laws

This bulletin shows:

  1. All Australian states and territories have introduced laws for RDT and DUI/DWI and one has introduced combination drug and alcohol driving laws (Vic).
  2. While there are clear similarities in their state designs, there are also differences in the array of drugs tested for, the testing procedures used, and the types and severity of penalties imposed.
  3. There are important variations in the extent to which states sanction impairment-based offences (DUI/DWI) more seriously than those that test for the presence of drugs alone (RDT). 

This is the first mapping of drug driving laws and their sanctions in Australia. As such, it enables comparisons of the different state and territory approaches to this evolving (but lesser known) area of drug policy. We pose questions as to whether some states are taking a more evidence informed approach to their laws and encourage further investigation into their practical implementation and effects.



Vivienne Moxham-Hall and Caitlin Hughes
Date Commenced
28 May 2020
Resource Type
DPMP Bulletins