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CASE STUDY: DRUG DRIVING CONVICTION OVERTURNED ON APPEAL

For the majority of people charged with drink driving or drug driving, the focus is on pleading guilty and achieving the best possible result on sentence. However, recently for...

Justin Wong

For the majority of people charged with drink driving or drug driving, the focus is on pleading guilty and achieving the best possible result on sentence. However, recently for one of Adam Faro’s client’s, he was not guilty and was determined to prove his innocence.

After having spent a long night working, our client planned to drive to Mcdonald’s to eat. Importantly, he hadn’t drank any alcohol or taken any drug (including prescribed medication) that would impede his ability to drive. Unfortunately, while driving he had a collision with a traffic island. Police were called and made observations about our client’s level of sobriety. At that point, they subjected him to a breath test which returned a negative result.

Our client explained to the Police that he had anxiety and was prescribed medication. He also informed them that immediately after the accident, he consumed some anti-anxiety medication to manage the stress of the accident.

Unfortunately, because the Police were unsatisfied with his explanation and the fact that he returned a negative result for alcohol, they arrested him and took him to hospital for a blood test. That blood test later (unsurprisingly) revealed that he had a ‘drug’ in his system, being the medication he was prescribed for his anxiety. The Police then relied on this to charge him with driving under the influence of a drug.

After a lengthy Local Court hearing, our client was unfortunately convicted due to a misapplication of the evidence by the Magistrate. On appeal, we mounted a complex argument as to why there was inadequate evidence to prove that our client consumed the ‘drug’ prior to the accident. After a careful consideration of the evidence, the District Court Judge agreed and quashed the finding of guilt, conviction and orders of the Local Court.

The end result was that our client was found not guilty.