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Roadside drug testing comes ever closer

By johnboy - 5 May 2010 158

The Liberal’s Jeremy Hanson is celebrating in principle support in the Legislative Assembly for his Random Roadside Drug Testing bill.

Apparently this is going to build on the “success” of the Victorian legislation in this area.

So what other random searches shall we start up in ever more panicked fear of ourselves?

What’s Your opinion?

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158 Responses to
Roadside drug testing comes ever closer
One 11:29 pm 05 May 10

“Its not your fault, your drunk mate”

So where is the public transport?

Is this another round of police cars getting funding for the Government?

How about a law that sees members of political parties gaoled for their part in accepting secret donations, to write one sided laws which never hold the commissioner responsibile for allowing a all-you-can-drink-society of $Millions in druken abuse where intoxicated members of this select society have a right to assault any victims that are legaly required by ACT Government law to defend their lives while taking care not to harm the drunk attempting to smash in the victims skull?

Every drunk gets a reward to help their lives

The assault victim gets taken to court by the ACT Government

Clown Killer 11:24 pm 05 May 10

I don’t really have too much of a problem with testing for other substances that might impair drivers. Testing for alcohol is a good thing, so why not testing for other drugs?

Where to from here? There’s plenty of drivers out and about on our roads that are having problems dealing with basic traffic issues regardless. The numerous threads here on RA with queues of people lining up to freely admit that they find it difficulty managing to drive safely when there are other road users such as cyclists about is testimony to the fact that there needs to be greater focus on the overall competency of drivers.

One 11:18 pm 05 May 10

How about adding tracking numbers to grog containers so police can track the sellers of grog that ends up in the hands of voilent drunks.

Then publish that to

Funny how the AFP research everything but drugs supplied by people who help with political donations

vg 11:10 pm 05 May 10

“So what other random searches shall we start up in ever more panicked fear of ourselves?”

I’d love to see you justify that comment to the families of people killed in motor vehicles accidents where drug affectation was a major factor.

I also bet you won’t publish this

Voice of Reason 11:00 pm 05 May 10

This is seriously flawed policy folks. There’s so many problems with it, I hardly know where to start.

First off … let’s drop the pretence there will be some random element. Roadside drug testing will be too expensive and time consuming for the police to waste precious resources on random testing. Compared with breath testing, the costs are astronomical.

Is it about road safety? No. Of course it isn’t. It’s a policy developed behind an illusion of road safety, just as the Victorian model it supposes to replicate provides nothing but an illusion of road safety. There is zero evidence that the Victorian model, held up by proponents of roadside testing for some drugs, has led to safer roads. In fact a study (the IDRS) of illicit drug users has shown that since the introduction of roadside testing for some drugs in Victoria, the self-reported rate of driving when intoxicated by drugs other than alcohol has not decreased at all. Now call me old fashioned, but a road safety initiative that has been demonstrated to not improve road safety is not a road safety initiative at all.

If you doubt this fact, grab hold of the report of the independent evaluation of the Victorian roadside testing for some drugs programme and see for yourself. What’s that you say … you can’t seem to find an independent evaluation of the Victorian programme? No, well you won’t. You see, there isn’t one. Now ask yourself, “why in the years since its introduction would they not evaluate the impact of this programme on road safety outcomes at a population level?” Good question. If such an evaluation was going to find a positive outcome, there would be a report on every shelf. Instead, Martin Boorman from the Victorian Police [some] Drug Testing Unit has stooped as low as the ‘academically credible peer reviewed and scrupulously above board A Current Affair tv programme’ to espouse the virtues of Victorian [some] drug testing programme and fuel the hand wringing of all those constantly demanding that our nation’s governments get tougher on drugs.

It’ll test for any detectable trace of pot, speed/ice and ‘E’. Test positive for even a minute trace and you’ll be charged with drug driving. It won’t matter whether you or your driving is not the slightest bit affected. Take a couple of ‘E’s on a Friday night out with the lads and ladies, and you will test positive when driving to work on a Monday morning. Why is that a problem? It’s obviously a problem if the best drug driving policy they can come up will also capture those who are not drug driving.

Similarly, there’s obviously a problem if the best drug driving policy they can come up with does not propose to screen drivers for other drugs taken commonly in the community and also commonly linked with vehicle crashes (such as benzodiazepines and other prescription medications, and heroin). According to the IDRS, benzos are easy to get in Canberra either on prescription or on the street. Around half of illicit drug users who enter drug treatment programmes have taken benzos in the month before.

Isn’t heroin a drug capable of impairing driver performance? Of course it is. Why won’t the programme screen drivers for heroin? Because they can’t differentiate it from prescription opioids that people might be taking legally. Why is that a problem? It’s a problem because our bodies and minds don’t differentiate between drugs that we have a prescription for and the drugs that we don’t. If it’s a drug capable of impairing driver performance and therefore capable of impacting on road safety, then any drug driving programme worth a cracker would have it within scope? Why doesn’t the proposed roadside testing for some drugs programme have all drugs within scope? Simple, because “normal people” who drive under the influence of legal drugs would get caught in the net.

Why would it be a problem that “normal people” whose driving is impaired get caught in the net? Well it wouldn’t be a problem if your motivation was road safety. It’d only be a problem if your motivation was political convenience, and if “normal people” weren’t the target of efforts to show the electorate that you’re tough on drugs, committed to road safety, and willing to pursue the users of some drugs (but not others) in order to prove your credentials.

So, will roadside testing for some drugs but not others improve road safety in the ACT? No, it won’t. Even if the resources and extra police necessary to implement it magically appeared, the Victorian evidence suggests that people who currently drug drive will continue to do so at precisely the same rate as they do now. Also, many currently driving under the influence of drugs will continue to do so knowing that the drugs that they take are not pot, speed/ice and ‘E’.

More alarming than that however, is the fact that police will need to be re-assigned from other duties in order to test drivers for some drugs but not others. Undoubtedly, some of the police implementing this garbage would otherwise have been involved in drink driving enforcement … a police initiative proven to make the roads safer with more than two thirds of drivers charged with drink driving never reoffending.

Great policy guys. Take police from an initiative proven to be effective in improving road safety, and redeploy them to an initiative without a scintilla of evidence of road safety improvement. Seriously, why the hell would you want to do that? Oh yeah, politics, of course. Why didn’t I think of that?

luther_bendross 9:13 pm 05 May 10

Maybe they could check that people’s indicators are working.

Snarky 7:56 pm 05 May 10

The two worst drugs our society has to deal with are tobacco and alcohol – they’re legal (within certain contexts) and more or less freely available. Tobacco doesn’t impair driving ability to the best of my knowledge, but alcohol does. More alcohol testing would be great, lower limits even better, and more convictions once detected would be a trifecta win for me.

Failing that, if you really want to “test” for something else then get out, pull hoon drivers off the road and catch the Mully’s of the world – the disqualified, unlicenced, uninsured b*stards who cause or create the worst accidents.

Jim Jones 6:59 pm 05 May 10

This is great news: I can’t wait to test drugs on the roadside.

Primal 6:38 pm 05 May 10

Random Pop Quiz Of Road Rules.

Get more than one wrong and you’re not allowed to drive again until you’ve retaken the learners test on a laptop at the side of the road.

farq 5:28 pm 05 May 10

It’s all going to come down to how they calibrate the test.

If someone can get busted on monday morning for a substance they took over the weekend then this is a really bad law that will disproportionally impact on the lives of young adults.

As this is being pushed by some real knuckle dragging conservative politicians, I don’t think they will be too worried about the injustice caused by a high rate of false positives.

OpenYourMind 5:16 pm 05 May 10

Real roadside drug testing should include a host of legal medications which are much more likely to affect driving. That testing will never happen.

Here’s a report that covers this issue:

fgzk 5:08 pm 05 May 10

No there is no consided range of drug. If its there your done.

Pork Hunt. Ill put cash up that the vast majority are employed, licensed, registered and integrated happily in the community. How much you want to bet.

Wraith 4:58 pm 05 May 10

So what other random searches shall we start up in ever more panicked fear of ourselves?

Cavity searches for the “Mully” gene.

p1 4:56 pm 05 May 10

I am interested to know if there is such a thing as “low range” or “high range” readings in this context.

As in, seemed fine but the drug test returned proof there was some in his system, or clearly stoned out if his brain, and tested him to prove it.

Pork Hunt 4:43 pm 05 May 10

I suppose this will be another excuse for the Mully’s of this world to do a runner when Policeman Plod approaches. In the event that this becomes law, I would bet that a large number of drivers testing positive will also be unreg, unlic and uninsured. Bogans…

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