NRMA wants tougher stance on drug driving

Motoring group advocates tougher line against drug-drivers in NSW, claiming they are being let off the hook

February 6, 2012

The NRMA is advocating harsher penalties for people caught drug-driving in NSW, claiming the judiciary is letting offenders off lightly.

Using figures sourced from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research between 2007 and 2010, the motoring group claims 27 percent of motorists convicted of driving with illicit drugs in their system were not fined.

Magistrates have the power to find someone guilty of an offence but waive penalties under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.

According to the NRMA, the number of penalties waived has more than doubled from 13 to 30 percent between 2007 and 2010.

"Drug driving is illegal, it is dangerous and it can kill," NRMA President Wendy Machin says.

"The police are doing their job catching people but the community is being let down by a system that sees too many walk away penalty free."

Machin says Section 10 rulings are being handed out too frequently, adding that the community expects penalties for drug-driving to be enforced.

"A Section 10 can be granted if the offence is considered to be of a trivial nature, but there’s nothing trivial about drug driving," she says.

"We have the penalties in place - let’s use them."

The penalties for motorists caught with the presence of cannabis or methylamphetamine in their system include a $1100 fine and a minimum three month disqualification for a first time offence. Heavier penalties apply for a second offence.

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