The Road Ahead : December January 2008
DEC 07/JAN 08 7 Russian roulette with the lives of others on Queensland roads," she said. Local studies have previously indicated that there could be up to four times as many drug drivers as drink drivers in Queensland. In addition, international research has revealed that drugs may be present in the bodily fluids of drivers in more than 40 percent of crashes. RACQ traffic and safety executive manager John Wikman said not only did the Club suppor t roadside drug testing, it was also an expectation of the community. "Last year, some 10,000 Queenslanders responded to RACQ's road safety sur vey and more than 90 percent agreed that random roadside drug testing would help to reduce the road toll," Mr Wikman said. "Considering this community suppor t and the high rates of detection elsewhere, the RACQ is pleased that Queensland is joining the other states by introducing drug testing. "Drugs can seriously impair driving and lead to crashes, so the new testing regime should have a positive impact on reducing the road toll." According to the Queensland Police Ser vice (QPS), drug testing in Queensland will follow a model similar to Victoria's. The Victorian experience has been that one in 49 drivers test positive for illicit drug use. In one year just prior to the introduction of drug testing in Victoria, it was found that almost a third of drivers killed on the road tested positive to drugs other than alcohol. Initial roadside testing is completed in a few minutes and Queensland police are expected to conduct 20,000 tests in the first year. A squad of trained officers will conduct the program statewide. Specially fitted out Mercedes-Benz rinter and Ford Territor y vehicles will be used for the ndom roadside drug tests. The testing devices are made by e same companies that provide the police in other states. QPS senior program manager for road safety summit ojects Inspector Rob McCall said drivers would initially be opped and asked to under take a breath test. "If a driver tests over the limit for alcohol, then we will deal h the alcohol issue," Insp. McCall said. "If a driver is not over the alcohol limit, police will conduct saliva drug test and, if the result is negative, the driver will able to leave. "A positive result will lead to a (second) confirmator y saliva test at the roadside. The driver will provide a saliva sample for this test by moving a swab around the mouth and over the tongue. "If the original test is confirmed, police will suspend the driver's licence for 24 hours, to allow the effects of the drugs to dissipate. The sample will then be sent to the government medical laborator y for independent analysis." Insp. McCall said police would only prosecute a driver after the laborator y analysis confirmed the presence of speed, ice, ecstasy or cannabis. Offenders will have to appear in cour t. He confirmed that police would be required to dispose of negative saliva samples immediately, and positive DRUG TEST STEPS 1. Roadside breath test first. 2. If you pass this and police still have suspicions, you'll be asked to provide a saliva sample while in your car. 3. Test is negative, you're free to go. 4. Test is positive, you must do a second test in the specially equipped police van to confirm. 5. If second test confirms, licence is suspended for 24 hours. 6. Sample then sent to government laborator y for independent analysis. If presence of speed, ice, ecstasy or cannabis confirmed, driver will be prosecuted. samples after the prosecution process (including appeals) is concluded. Samples can't be used for other purposes, such as DNA testing. If a driver is caught drug driving a second time while an outstanding drug driving offence is still to be heard by a cour t, his or her licence will be suspended until the matter is finalised by a cour t. Drivers who are unable to provide a saliva sample may be required to provide a blood specimen for analysis. Police have advised that drivers who are taking prescription medication or undergoing methadone treatment will not register as positive unless they are also taking illicit drugs. QPS has confirmed that there is no 'limit', as applies with alcohol (e.g. blood alcohol limit of 0.05). It's a matter of whether or not the tests detect the presence of an illicit drug. Saliva tests are designed to react with only the active ingredient of the relevant drug. The detection period for the active ingredient varies depending on such factors as the quantity of the drug ingested, the frequency of use and the period of time since the drug was taken. Drivers found guilty of having a drug in their system could be fined up to $1050 and lose their licence for up to nine months for a fi r st offence. Should drivers refuse to give the first drug test sample, they will be treated the same as someone who fails to give a breath test if asked and charges could apply. Failure to agree to a confirmator y test, when the initial drug test is positive, will be treated as a major offence. The charges that apply to drivers who test positive and have their test confirmed through laborator y analysis will be regarded as traffic offences, not drug of fences. ABOVE: Drugs can seriously impair drivers. MAIN PHOTO: The roadside test will take a few minutes. INSET: Equipment used in the second test. Sergeant Wayne Rober ts, Queensland Police Ser vice pro Spr ran theQ pro sto " wit" as be "
October November 2007
February March 2008