Roadside drug driving testing

Arguments against drug driving testing

  • It is not random. Police utilise number plate recognition, including vehicles where the driver has previously been dealt with for drug driving. Testing sites are often set up outside music festivals and in areas where use is high, i.e., MardiGrass blanket testing.
  • It is not a road safety measure – it is a prohibition measure. If it was a road safety measure, it would have been ditched, as there is no evidence it has impacted the road toll at all. Random breath testing, seatbelts, airbags and 50 km speed limits all had a noticeable, provable impact. Not so with drug driving measures, which is not surprising, given it does not test affectation.
  • It is not all illegal. Cannabis is now prescribed widely in Australia with approval of every government in the country. There are many illegal things, rape, murder, theft etc and none leads to loss of licence because none make our roads more dangerous. Presence of THC in the mouth does not necessarily make you or your driving more dangerous.
  • Use of illicit drugs is not the cause of major road trauma. The major substance cause of death or injury is, in order; alcohol, and prescription drugs.
  • It is untrue that it’s only a traffic offence and you don’t get a criminal record. Any conviction (or proven offence with no conviction recorded) still has significant impact on employment, insurance and travel.
  • It does not discourage alcohol, prescription drugs, opioids (including heroin), LSD, magic mushrooms or synthetic drugs, and cocaine is not tested for, in most states. This testing methodology encourages use of amphetamines and cocaine as, word is, you’re clear within 48 hours. With cannabis patients, impairment is rare but cannabis can remain in your system for a long time, long after impairment (if any). 
  • Tasmania has a medical/prescription exception, and the sky has not fallen in. There are medical exceptions in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Norway and New Zealand. Those who oppose medical exemptions generally have a vested interest – police, big pharma and the alcohol lobby.
  • It affects insurance, there is an exclusion if your car is being driven by “anyone who had more than the legal limit for alcohol or ‘drug’ in their breath, blood, saliva or urine as shown by analysis”. Given that the legal limit for detection offences is zero, this poses real problems for those following their doctor’s directions or an illicit user with a minute detection. 
  • No evidence shows prescription drugs are safer for drivers than cannabis. There is plenty of evidence that those who use cannabis on prescription reduce use of prescription drugs, particularly opioids. In other words, there is a strong argument that drivers with merely detectable levels are likely to be less affected than if driving on prescription drugs. 

Reform Driving Laws

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