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ACT libs want roadside drug testing

By Kramer 8 December 2009 75

The ACT opposition is planning to introduce a bill which will give police powers to test drivers for illicit drug use using an oral swab. The measure would bring us into line with all other Australian jurisdictions, which already have the powers to test for drugs.

Of course the measure is opposed by the government, who say such measure are not needed in the ACT, and the Liberals are just trying to “pick a winner”.


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ACT libs want roadside drug testing
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TheObserver 1:00 pm 14 Jan 10

I suppose this is one way to encourage greater use of public transport.

Punter 10:52 pm 16 Dec 09

fgzk, I will stand by my comment, the problem with roadside testing for prescription meds is the ‘users’ are already on the road, and testing doesn’t account for all of them. There are better ways. Don’t think I disagree with you about medicated drivers being a potential problem.

fnaah 4:44 pm 15 Dec 09

As long as the stats support it, someone with a degree backs it and the politicians call for it, then you shall have it.

You can get all three for just about any proposed wildly draconian infringement on liberty, and often enough people are dumb enough to go for it too, but that doesn’t make it right.

This kind of targeting already exists and has done so for a long time. You are really behind the times with issuing papers. We already issue steel plates with numbers on them that clearly mark you out for targeting. You know the ones. Number plates.

Having a unique identifier is very different than directly targetting me by assuming I’m guilty of something because I live in (or happen to drive through, or near) any one particular suburb or block of flats. The presumption of innocence is pretty important.

I agree with your point on prescription meds, however consier this the following: a fatigued driver suffers worse impairment than one with low-range BAC. (http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/publications/2000/pdf/Fatig_Alc.pdf) Where is the roadside test for that? Where is the law (backed by stats and several someones with degrees) that calls for all drivers to be tested for sleep regulation hormones, especially after 2am, when clearly everyone must have been awake for more than the safety-proven 17 hours?

Current methods of roadside drug testing do not test impairment, only the presence (sometimes weeks old) of a substance. The proscribed BAC was agreed upon after research to determine level of impairment at differing BACs, whereas drug driving legislation seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the “drugs r bad, mmkay” sentiment.

westyonline 1:06 pm 14 Dec 09

i think that Horsepower restrictions on junior drivers would be a better option to push hard to make our roads safer,i agree that drugs and alcohol do play a large part in road saftey issues,but zero levels in either is just not realistic!..it would change our workplace culture for the worse,people would not be able to drive to work just because the had a panadol to treat a headache.no lunchtime drinks with clients etc,if you went away camping for a fewdays and smoked some pot,how would you still be “D.U.I.” 4 days later just because your test showed up positive at an RBT while driving to work!!..

fgzk 9:33 am 14 Dec 09

fnaah “but targetting someone for police scrutiny based on something as ludicrous as their suburb of residence is nothing short of redneck alarmist retardism.”

As long as the stats support it, someone with a degree backs it and the politicians call for it, then you shall have it. This kind of targeting already exists and has done so for a long time. You are really behind the times with issuing papers. We already issue steel plates with numbers on them that clearly mark you out for targeting. You know the ones. Number plates.

Punter. “don’t think roadside drug testing is the answer to this problem”

It so is the answer to prescription drugs. Targeting someone based on something so ludicrous as who made the drug is nothing short of redneck alarmist retardism. They impair driving, thus are a risk to other road users and have to be included in drug testing.

Punter 9:48 pm 13 Dec 09

Wow fgzk, I think the rapid team probably already test for alcohol, why not eh? For drug testing the legislation has to pass first. Rather than target particular suburbs, I think it would be better used at ‘choke points’ targetting a greater amount of people.

Tooks, perhaps the Courts need to be a little more clogged, this may provoke some harsher sentencing which, in turn may be a bit more of a deterrent.

Gee Woody, if I’ve missed your humour, I think the amount of Police I see at roadside testing points would suggest either your scenario is less likely than fgzks medical records idea, or there is widespread corruption in the Police.

Caf, I’m not disagreeing that prescription drugs can be a problem with road safety, and I’m certainly not say other states have the answer to it. Most, if not all licencing authorities have little control over what people choose to take before they drive a car. I say ‘choose’ because the choice doesn’t have to be to take the meds or not, but to choose to drive a car or not. If people are on such heavy medication prescribed by a doctor, I’m sure they’re aware of the affect it has on them to operate vehicles, heavy machinery and so on. I would place a heavy burden of responsibility on someone who takes such medication knowing it’s effects, then driving a car which can weigh upwards from one tonne, crashing it and seriously injuring or killing someone else. The RTA relies on licence holders and their doctors to advise them of any risks to driving vehicles on our roads. I don’t think roadside drug testing is the answer to this problem, it is better caught at the source. Perhaps some legislation requiring doctors to notify RTA of cetain prescriptions issued may be adopted. A better option than waiting until they’re already on the road risking yours and my health.

caf 6:21 pm 13 Dec 09

I’m telling you that the methods adopted in other states were *not* sound, and did *not* cover many prescription drugs that are actually implicated in RTAs (the most egregious example being barbituates). I have no reason to expect that we would get any better.

Woody Mann-Caruso 3:28 pm 13 Dec 09

Meanwhile, in progressive Victoria:

“Just put this swab in your mouth, and…just like I thought. Sir, this swab has tested positive for cocaine.”
“Am I under arrest?”
“No, we were just hoping you could help us score. They’ve really clamped down on the evidence locker this week.”

Punter 11:18 am 13 Dec 09

fnaah, I’m no doctor, I’m only echoing the information found in the second link in my post #58, which I did find by a google search. It seems to be the information the law makers will be relying on. Dr Odell has been involved in the laws written in Victoria regarding this subject, you can find him here http://www.vifm.org/cfmteach.html.

fnaah 11:00 am 13 Dec 09

fgzk blurted: Equip every RAPID car with drug tests. Pull over any car that has previous drug related issues and test them. Test every unlicensed unregistered driver caught. Target the roads around drug dealers, government flats, Kambah, Charnwood, dickson, peakhour, etc. You will get 1500 people a year easy. All drug users, most recidivists. If you data cross matching with medical records and emergency room records, you will pretty much be able to identify those most likely to be drug users and remove them from the road. No wasted tests and a huge saving on the community purse.

That is one of the most horrifying things I’ve read on this site. I’m going to risk invoking Godwin’s law and suggest that perhaps you’d like to also issue people with Papers and have them checked at the border every suburb? Wouldn’t want those horrible Kambahnians defecting to somewhere nice, now would we?

I’ll tell you why we aren’t already doing this: because screw that, that’s why. I don’t care what “won’t someone think of the XXXX” reasons you give, but targetting someone for police scrutiny based on something as ludicrous as their suburb of residence is nothing short of redneck alarmist retardism.

Take your neo-nazism somewhere else, thanks.

fnaah 10:45 am 13 Dec 09

As I understand it, they have no legitimate medical use

Really? Is your Google broken? You shouldn’t have a hard time finding research on the legitimate medical uses for all three substances.

Tooks 9:27 am 13 Dec 09

fgzk: Some interesting ideas there, but you’d need a lot more police and start building extensions onto the Magistrate’s Court, which will start getting very clogged up.

fgzk 9:05 am 13 Dec 09

Punter I think there is a way around that. Data matching medical records and police records.

The more I think about it there is a simpler and cheaper way. The government will want to remove from the road lets say 2000 drug users a year. There are far more drug users who have worked out for themselves that an accident isn’t a sure thing. So lets just say that 1500 people next year will lose there licence, jobs etc. from random drug tests. A lot of them could be recidivist drug drivers that the police already have information on ie drug addicts. You could still remove 1500 people from our roads with the present laws and technology for a considerable amount less than random testing.

How. Equip every RAPID car with drug tests. Pull over any car that has previous drug related issues and test them. Test every unlicensed unregistered driver caught. Target the roads around drug dealers, government flats, Kambah, Charnwood, dickson, peakhour, etc. You will get 1500 people a year easy. All drug users, most recidivists. If you data cross matching with medical records and emergency room records, you will pretty much be able to identify those most likely to be drug users and remove them from the road. No wasted tests and a huge saving on the community purse.

This will also have a huge effect on how drugs are moved around and traded. Once you start removing peoples ability to drive and confiscating their vehicle it will be a lot harder for the dealers/users to conduct business. They will have to catch a bus.

Safe roads, easy, cheap and doable right now. Why aren’t the police already doing this?

Punter 10:51 pm 12 Dec 09

Truth is I had the link all along, I just forgot about it. You can be sure it’s the bible for the RTA assessing medical fitness to drive in the ACT and other states of Oz. The trouble is medical conditions can develop after an individual has already obtained a licence, so for the majority of those times it takes a car crash for medical conditions to be identified.

fgzk 5:41 pm 12 Dec 09

Great link. We all should have a professional license. Things would be simpler and our roads safer.

I think my comments about mind frame for dexamphetamine are spot on. They have a cop out clause. The effects listed would be for a fit person without ADHD.

“17.2.6 Specialist advice may need to be sought regarding drivers who have complex conditions such as ADHD or Tourettes Syndrome.”

Punter 1:47 pm 12 Dec 09

Thanks fgzk, I have found some information about this issue here http://www.austroads.com.au/cms/AFTD%20web%20Aug%202006.pdf drawn straight from the TAMS website. It seems if someone is prescribed dexamphetamine for whatever reason, it falls to the relevant state issuing driving regulations whether or not a licence should be issued. Your comment about being in a better mindframe for driving while on the meds is not quite correct though. See chapters 6 & 7 of the link, particularly page 54 under the stimulants row for information on dexamphetamine. These chapters have already considered illicit and prescrition drugs in the issuing of licences.

fgzk 8:50 am 12 Dec 09

Punter “Do Doctors prescribe amphets? ” Yes they do but not the kind you buy from the Tattooed monsters in the car park.

It is a good example of the effect this drug has on different people. If you have been prescribed dexamphetamine (or other stimulant) then you should be required to take your prescription whilst driving. If you are tested negative then you should be fined. On the medication you will be less likely to be distracted. This will help with maintaining the legal speed limit, and to drive more consistently. Not taking the drug may have already cost the “patients” multiple driving infringements and possibly accidents.

The OP not mentioning “meds” is probably a good indicator that they haven’t really considered the issue.

Punter 1:28 pm 11 Dec 09

Nota, While I do see the point you’re trying to make, we are discussing the legal implications of drug testing and I will stick to the legal definition of culpable for that reason. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

The study you’ve refered to appears to have made it’s conclusions based on information from crashes that have already occurred – 2500 blood samples from SA drivers. I haven’t had the benefit of reading the study, has it given any consideration to how said drugs affect drivers or is it statistic based only? If the term ‘likely’ is used throughout, it’s a good sign it is statistic based only. Just because the actions of a drug affected driver may not have caused a particular collision, doesn’t indicate whether or not the drugs in his system has altered his ability to drive safely. Try some of the research behind Victorias legislation, particularly the VIFM.

Fgzk, I’m not ignoring prescrition meds in these discussions but, the OP didn’t refer to prescription meds. I’m only staying on subject. I do, however agree that they can be a problem. You may find this link interesting. http://www.saferoadsconference.com/2006/papers/Morris%20Odell%20Full%20Paper%20Saferoads.pdf. Elderly drivers are a whole different kettle of fish.

Dvaey, I missed your link, thanks for that. Do Doctors prescribe amphets? Should this come with a condition not to drive as fgzk suggested in #36? I have a link for you too. http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/110847/Clinical_Forensics_ACT.pdf. The affects of of alcohol intoxication on two people to the same level can vary dramatically between them, yet it is legislated that .05 is the limit (licence dependant). There has been a line drawn in the sand and that is the tollerance for intoxication. Would people be outraged if it was a zero limit? probably, because alcohol is a legal drug, not required on prescription. Compare this to the three drugs the roadside testing intents to screen for, what arguement does anyone have to have these on board? As I understand it, they have no legitimate medical use.

Readers may notice the names of the VIFM and Dr Odell throughout these links. They seem to be deeply involved in the formation of drug driving legislation.

dvaey 10:50 am 11 Dec 09

Punter said :

Caf #42, I don’t know the science behind how other states determine intoxication of drugs but I’m sure the methods we adopt would be sound. Additionally, if these laws are enacted, there is scope for argument on what ‘intoxication’ means through subsequent Court proceedings allowing case law to resolve this issue.

The point of it is road safety. Roadside drug testing is also an ideal tool to identify people in need of help. What incentives to addicts currently have to attend rehab programs? None I would think. Any subsequent Court action of roadside tests could include orders to attend such programs.

Firstly, in response to how other states determine ‘intoxication’, from my article linked above (#52): “A further limitation of current drug tests is they only detect the presence of illicit drugs and not whether a driver’s skills are impaired.” So, to answer your question ‘other states’ dont have any method to determine intoxication. Either the chemical is present in your system, and youve committed an offence, or the chemical is not in your system so you havent. This is part of why we currently dont have drug testing in ACT.

As for your second question, if someone tests positive to dexamphetmine prescribed by a doctor (or a specialist with potentially decades of knowledge of the drug), what gives the police the power to suddenly understand this individuals medical situation better than an experienced medical professional? Apparently, this proposed law does.

Ive got no problem with taking drivers off our road who really shouldnt be there, however simply saying youve had a drink last night or youve had a joint last month, is not good enough imho. If youre affected by something then you should be taken off the road, but if you do something which doesnt affect your ability to drive then why should it matter?

If you want to fairly take all drug-affected drivers off the road, fgzk has the right idea at #36, with requiring all patients on medications that affect driving, to have their licence suspended. It would keep a higher number of drugged drivers off our road than the proposed roadside testing, which will be great for finding people who have used drugs in the past, not so great for finding those intoxicated by drugs.

fgzk 6:27 am 11 Dec 09

Punter “we’re talking about removing impaired drivers from our roads to protect the greater community.”

Yet you don’t want to refer to prescription drugs. Sooner prescription drug users and some of the elderly are off the road the better. If this government is serious, then it will include removing all impaired drivers not just the illegal drug users.

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